The world is getting “more agile” — or let’s say carefully … it wants to become more agile. That’s challenge enough. But why agile communication at the same time? I have got used to the astonished eyes of some customers when I explain that agility is above all a matter of attitude. Agility is not something I can simply “work through”, I have to live agility.
Agile mindset means closer to the customer —
Agile communication means closer to the communication partner
The founders of the concept clearly defined the basic idea of agile work in their “Agile Manifesto”. Even though its origins lie in software development, it is also the basis for work in other fields of development and service.
At least 2 of the 4 principles of the agile manifesto focus on cooperation and the human being — and thus on communication.
- Individuals and interactions - stand above processes and tools
- Functioning software [/ functioning products / satisfactory service] — stands above comprehensive documentation
- Cooperation with the customer — stands above contract negotiation
- Reaction to change - stands above following a plan
A prioritization that requires a rethink for many established and familiar processes — just a different attitude.
It is this combination of attitude (mindset) and the appropriate agile methods through which the agile concept unfolds its benefits.
Important pillars of agility are customer proximity and teamwork. All participants are in constant exchange with each other — that means communication is omnipresent: communicate when there is something to specify; communicate when there are questions; communicate when there are problems; communicate when you need support; …
The seconds sprint of agile communication
Agile communication is similar to agile methods like Scrum. As with Scrum, agile communication works in increments:
WHAT (which messages) do I want to convey [Scrum: Product Backlog]
HOW do I reach my interlocutors (WHEN) so that they listen to me openly [Scrum: Sprint Planning and Backlog]?
COMMUNICATE [Scrum: Sprint Backlog, Create Increment]
CHECK, has my message arrived? Findings from the reaction to my communication? [Scrum: Daily Scrum, Sprint Review]
SELF STREFLEKTION, what can I personally improve in my communication? [Scrum: Sprint Retrospective]
FURTHER, if the communication was successful: Super, next step! [Scrum: next entry from the product backlog]
- if the communication was not successful: no problem, with the findings from “CHECK” again in the “HOW” [Scrum: with the same product backlog and new knowledge again in the Sprint]
The difference to Scrum lies in the speed. A sprint with Scrum lasts up to 30 days — an agile communication sprint rarely takes more than a few seconds.
Agile communication means: to design the communication from second to second in order to create a positive and effective environment with the communication partner. This requires mindfulness: has my message been received? Do I experience positive or negative conflict behaviour? Is my communication partner in an OK-OK attitude? Am I in an OK-OK attitude? Do I see drivers or distress behavior? How can I shape the communication process?
And all this in a few seconds? Sounds challenging? — You can train! Who knows which signals are relevant in communication, can optimize his own communication in agile steps and is efficient according to the situation.