Dealing with Uncertainty the Agile Way

Dealing with uncertainty with Agile training
Joe Burroughs

Joe Burroughs

Many people are frustrated by uncertainty and complexity in their jobs. I use Agile principles to provide clear and simple strategies so that you can win at work!

Agile has Two Guiding Tenets

  1. Deliver small units of value to customers frequently
  2. Adapt to changing requirements and conditions based on feedback

These go hand-in-hand as the first delivers to the customer and the second receives feedback from the customer to inform the future work. This loop can be applied to almost anything in life from delivering software to navigating the job market during a pandemic. The key to dealing with uncertainty  is to apply these concepts intentionally so that you can move ahead in small increments and react to the feedback you receive.

Agile Guide to Uncertainty

Start by determining who your “customers” are in the given situation. They could be actual customers, prospective employers, neighbors, colleagues, etc. In any case you want to define who your customer is because they will be your source of feedback.

Next, decide what would be a small unit of deliverable value that you could provide your customer. This may involve direct conversations with the customer, but that may not be possible in some cases. Take job hunting as an example, you may not be able to directly interact with a hiring manager prior to submitting a resume or completing a job application. The key here is to realize that you still get feedback! If your resume doesn’t lead to a job interview you will need to take that as feedback and make some changes. You can increase your feedback by increasing your customer base. In our example that would include looping in recruiters and other hiring managers who are familiar with the work you do and the role you are seeking.

Once you have made updates based on what feedback you received, you iterate and deliver again. Keeping records of your feedback, changes, and updates along the way makes this process more valuable and easier to replicate when success is achieved.

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Feedback is Key!

Getting feedback and then having an appetite to change based on that feedback is the key to success in this process! What uncertainty are you facing? What would you like to solve with an Agile approach? Let me know in the comments!

Cheers,
Joe

Cheers,

Joe Burroughs

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9 thoughts on “Dealing with Uncertainty the Agile Way”

  1. For the last 5 years of my life, I have apparently been using agile in my personal life. I vowed 5 years ago to keep trying new things. Either I will fail, I will hate it, or I will love it, but at least I will learn. By using this fail fast method, I have pushed myself to start a new business of my own, have my husband start a business in which I help, move to a new city, get a black belt and even take this class. The feedback from taking this class is that I actually miss this MBA type material. I am actually paying attention for all 3 hours that you teach. I am not scrolling or goofing off. I am actually engaged for the entire online class. That means that internally my feed back is that I like this stuff.

    1. Joe Burroughs

      Renita, You are a life-long learner. A person who always wants to grow and challenge themselves. This will set you up for success in every area of your life where you channel and focus your energy.

      Thank you for the wonderful comment! I am looking forward to our next class session!!

  2. In 2009 I created a group, Soul of Cinema Movie Review, where our goal was to support black filmmakers. This was in response to a comment that Black films were cheesy. I wanted to know why we had such views and create a platform for these filmmakers to show their work. I began in my living room inviting friends over to watch a couple of films. Then, I was encourage to expand out of my home. So, i bartered with black-owned restaurants. If they allowed us to use their space we would order from their menu. When communications broke down or the business were loss, I decided to screen a a charter school in the community. Our membership began to grow. Aside from introducing the community to films telling our stories and addressing our issues, I wanted them to have opportunities, constructive discussions and engagement with other business. So, I invited community leader and business owners to participate in a panel discussion. I provided a space for small businesses to sell their merchandise. Invited caterers to provide a good meal. Soul of Cinema Movie Review became more than an event it was an experience. Eventually, through suggestion from our members, through crowdfunding we were able to bring two films to major theaters here in Charlotte, Free Angela and Fela. When I revamp SOCMR again, I will solicit more help and delegate more responsibilities. I did have a small support team however I could have branched them out so that they could have their own teams to manage their duties and that way we can be a more connected unit and get more done in less time. I believe we could have screened more films a month and held more workshops.

      1. Yes! I know him. We screened his film here in Charlotte. We actually sold out the venue. I love that film. I met him when he was in post production and saw first hand that work he put in to make that film happen. He is a cool dude.

  3. Melanie Baker

    Agile Methods have been difficult in Education because the decision-makers are not changing, but the look and feel of education are. Adaptation is something that I have seen many of my co-workers struggle with, however, I am constantly changing my processes personally and professionally to increase my efficiency.

    1. Joe Burroughs

      That hits close to home for me. I fell in love with curriculum development and deployment back in the 1990s when I did some consulting work for IBM. The Management Development team they had assembled was top notch and they were constantly pushing the envelope with digital courses, instructor-led training, and hybrid models that married the best of both worlds.
      Education happens wherever people learn. It can be inside the biggest companies or the smallest classrooms. Enterprise corporate training and consulting offer some cutting-edge tools to deliver just-in-time learning for motivated team members. It may be something for you to consider!

  4. Jolie Lizotte

    Your analogy to job hunting really hits home for me since I’ve been unemployed for the last 6 months. I have found myself taking an agile approach with my resume and building my LinkedIn profile. From reading job ads I can learn what today’s employers are looking for and then I make changes to how I am marketing myself. After this class ends I’m going to do a significant change to my resume to reflect the classes I’ve been taking for the PMP and use keywords to help employers see how my past experience can contribute to what they are looking for. I was just thinking today about who I could ask for feedback when that rewrite is done!

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