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Agile Scrum comes to the IFVP Board!

By Kimberly Dornisch CSPO, CSM (Certified Agile Scrum Product Owner and ScrumMaster) and IFVP Board Member

Your IFVP Board is always searching for ways in which we can serve the IFVP community better and more effectively – and that applies to how we function as a Board!  At our 2019 summer strategy meeting and subsequent board meetings, we reflected on our time management and strategic focus capabilities and determined that they needed improvement. 

  • We had a lot of important activities being done, but they were not getting completed and available to our community. 
  • We did not have a defined priority list of outcomes we wanted to achieve and that everyone aligned their available time to. 
  • We wondered if we were using our precious time on the right things, at the right time, for the right level of time and money investment.

Sounds like a great application for Agile ways of working!  For those who may not be familiar, Agile is a mindset for a purposeful way of working that helps teams and organizations focus on what matters most to its customer (the IFVP community and our clients), commit to measurable outcomes in shorter time increments (actually getting more value delivered), and leveraging the full capacity and capability of its team members (the IFVP Board Members and our awesome volunteers)!  Sunny, our President, knew that I had a lot of experience in my prior corporate career with managing Agile teams and now in my own consulting business with coaching and mentoring organizations who are starting their Agile maturation journey.  She asked me to be the Board’s ScrumMaster (the "coach" and guide who assists Agile team maturity) to help us experiment with these new ways of working, and I gladly accepted!

So, what does this look like for us?  Here are some highlights –

  • We now have a defined backlog, which we manage in Trello, with prioritized items and breakdowns of tasks and activities required to achieve the minimal value we need to call our outcome achieved or ”done” and ready for our community to use.
  • We are running monthly “sprints”, which we plan and review at our monthly Board meetings. This is the Board’s opportunity to review what has been accomplished in the prior month, provide feedback, reevaluate priorities, and plan the next month’s commitments based on the available time each Board member can offer.
  • We perform a monthly retrospective on how these new Agile norms are working for us, and what we want to change (experiment with) in the next month to continuously improve how we work together.
  • We have weekly check-ins or “huddles” (some live via Zoom, some offline) to identify blockers, ask for help on specific activities, and reset any commitments due to changes in our available capacity.

We officially started sprinting at the beginning of the year, and while we are still in the “getting the hang of this thing” stage of learning and doing, we have seen improvements already –

  • Our Board meetings are more focused and productive – we “see” our accomplishments and can together determine the next right steps to take
  • We are starting to get more things “done done” (this means that they are creating value for our community and they are off of our “to do” list!)
  • Our personal and team accountabilities are known to all and we are holding ourselves and each other to them!
  • We have increased our psychological safety with each other to be able to challenge each other, call each other out, and work through “tense moments” more effectively, with an eye on continuously improving to be a better team!

We still have a lot of learning to do, but we all are very excited to see our early progress and cannot wait to see how much better we will be and how much more community value we will have delivered in 3 months, 6 months, 9 months!

For more information, you can read the Scrum Guide here – and Google anything related to Agile, Scrum, Lean for additional information.