Agile Teams

Cover image for Agile Teams

Great teams require rules, systems, and procedures, but also demand the flexibility to shift and transform processes on the fly as circumstances change. This Program looks closely at this tension, exploring what it means to be agile by helping teams and those who manage them find equilibrium between two priorities that don’t always feel like they align: structure and adaptability.

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Program Overview

Agility is more than just a passing trend, though you’d be forgiven for thinking of it as such. The way that the word has been used and misused over the years has certainly diluted its meaning. But at its core, agility is about applying a few basic principles and practices to the way that we work, both as individuals and in teams, to organize and optimize our time and resources. At its best, it’s a fundamentally simplifying way of structuring the way we work that maximizes autonomy, efficiency, and adaptability.

As always, however, that’s easier said than done. We all want to work quickly and effectively, but as managers, we have to set our teams up for success. What’s the right balance of structure and autonomy that allows our teams to thrive and collaborate most effectively? How do we know what to change and what to keep? And what do our people need us to do to do their best work? This Program explores all of these questions and more on the way to building agility into the way we and our teams operate.

Key Questions

How can we use the principles of Agile to make our teams faster, more coordinated, and more adaptable?

What principles can help us develop a good understanding of process?

How can we define processes and map them? Why is this helpful?

How can we as managers adopt a mindset of continuous improvement?

How do we separate the good information from the noise?

What can we do to protect our team’s time and attention?

Field Manuals

The Agile Teams Program is made up of four Field Manuals (our version of an online module). Each one contains a variety of types of content and social exercises culminating in a mini-project, reflection, or debate. Each Field Manual will take you between 30-45 minutes to complete but you can jump on and off at your own pace, as often as you’d like. The deeper learning happens in the discussions with your fellow learners so be sure to check in on the conversations regularly.

  • Process

    We can’t improve what we can’t see. And many of us can’t see the underlying processes that drive the work of our teams each day without learning how to see what is usually invisible to us. Examining our processes closely helps us shed light on what we’re doing—and uncover insights that will help us get better. This Field Manual explores how.

  • Improvements

    A great team is never done reinventing itself. Innovation demands a commitment to creating a disciplined, systematic approach to change. In this Field Manual, we’ll explore the cycle of continuous improvement and learn how managers can successfully guide their teams by fearlessly embracing measured, continuous change.

  • Agility

    Agile has gone from trend to reality for many organizations. But what is it? And how can it help us be better managers? This Field Manual introduces the Agile movement and explores its history, its applications, and the underlying principles that make it such a powerful tool for fast, resilient collaboration.

  • Focus

    Finding the signal in the noise is more important than ever in a world saturated with data and distractions. Focus is the key to staying disciplined in our continuous efforts to optimize the way we work. This Field Manual looks at why it can be so hard to focus in today’s information-saturated world and what we can do about it. It offers tips for how to help yourself and your team to streamline efforts and sustain the right focus.

Case Studies
  • “Stand-ups” in Action

  • Lick’s Breakthrough and the Invention of the Personal Computer

  • The Birth of the Doctor’s Visit

  • Iteration in Action - The Control Group

  • Failure Gets Crafty

  • Defining Workflow Processes

An excerpt from the Program

While it may seem dull and tedious on the surface, understanding how we do what we do—mapping our processes—can be creative, and, ultimately, freeing. Sometimes, understanding a process can even change the world. Watch the following animation to learn how.