Agile Development Planning | SmartBrief


Agile is the name of the game when it comes to everything in business today. From project management to production. From strategy to service. The ability to remain flexible and react with agility to rapidly changing conditions is vital to the success of an organization.

It is the same for individuals. Today, successfully navigating careers and development also requires an agile approach.

Information by Julie Winkle Giulioni

Agile development planning produces a living tool that guides employees to make development a daily part of their lives. And, it gives leaders the information they need to offer regular support, advice, feedback, reinforcement, and recognition.

While the form of the plan matters less than the substance of it – and the conversation behind it – you may find this planning template a useful starting point for capturing ideas and guiding a rich development dialogue. Here are the steps to get there.

Step 1: Identify multiple goals

Yes, that “s” in “goals” was intended. The employment landscape is too dynamic to focus efforts on a single goal. 85% of all the jobs that will be available in 2030 have yet to be invented, according to a 2017 Dell report. Conversely, everyday, once life-saving jobs are being taken out of service. Keeping the door open to multiple possibilities gives the greatest feeling that you will be prepared and have multiple options to contribute to the job.

Additionally, given the fickle nature of jobs themselves, goals should focus less on what people might want to “be” and more on what they want to do. The latter is considerably richer in opportunities than the former because competence is the new currency in our changing workplace.

Step 2: Generate possible actions to pursue each objective

Agile development is all about flexibility, options, and the ability to pivot quickly to take advantage of changing conditions. So; Similar to generating multiple goals, you will want to generate multiple possible actions. To show creativity. Don’t rely exclusively on formal training, workshops and webinars. They represent a drop in the ocean of development actions. Consider on-the-job shadowing, coaching, mentoring, opportunities for greater visibility, experiential learning through special projects and extended assignments. Incorporate actions that:

  • Involve others; but also be sure to include a lot of things you can do on your own.
  • Requires some time to complete; but be sure to also include shorter, quicker activities that you can squeeze in between and among other work tasks.
  • Stretch beyond your comfort zone; but also be sure to identify ways to leverage your strengths and build confidence and momentum.

Step 3: Synergize between objectives and possible actions

Given the “time desert” that characterizes the typical existence of employees today, it can be difficult to actually put development plans in place. Therefore, it is essential to take advantage of overlaps, find efficiencies and feed as many birds as possible with a single crumb. (A less grim view of killing several birds with one stone!)

Identify where a development strategy can advance multiple goals. See where similar actions repeat themselves. And highlight them as high-impact areas of intervention to explore and exploit for synergistic and effective development.

Step 4: Prioritize a few high impact actions and determine how to move each one forward

Since agile development requires routine review and recalibration, the plan doesn’t need to be a full year-long commitment (which, if we’re being honest, has been ranked in the past, no longer be reviewed before the “planning season.”)

Instead, identify a few priorities for moving forward and be prepared to iterate over time. And while you do, consider the following:

  • Realistic assessment of time, priorities and energy for development;
  • Availability of resources (courses, mentors, experiences);
  • What is in the sphere of influence of the manager and the employee? What can they make to happen independently of others? ; and
  • What is the most interesting, exciting, appetizing? what will add energy and satisfaction to the employee’s life?

Then document the actions, all the necessary details, timelines and support required to optimize the development.

Step 5: Prepare to change your plan

Don’t fall in love or get too attached to this document. Keep it in pencil or in edit mode. Because to be useful, it will have to change – and frequently. If it’s unmarked and messy, it might be a plan, but it’s not a driver of development.

Leaders and employees who engage in effective agile development planning commit to regularly thinking about how you do things, reviewing the plan and its assumptions, and revising it based on changing conditions, interests and opportunities. It’s that kind of mindset – and skill set – that allows development to join all other critical business functions to operate in an agile manner.

Julie Winkle Giulioni works with organizations around the world to improve performance through leadership and learning. Named one of Inc. Magazine’s Top 100 Leadership Speakers, Winkle Giulioni is the co-author of the bestselling “Help Them Grow or Watch Them Go: Career Conversations Organizations Need and Employees Want” (the 2nd edition will be published in January 2019), a respected speaker on a variety of topics and a regular contributor to numerous trade publications.

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