Category Archives: Agile for Business & Functional Teams

The Takeout Menu Approach to Biz Funk Agile / Lean

Okay, so you are a business or functional team, and you’ve decided to “go agile.”  Where to start? Help me out, coach!

Start by forgetting agile (or “lean“) for a second.  Instead, think about what you know: you know your team all the work you need to get done.  Now what about your work or your team presents the biggest problem or opportunity?  Is it that you have tons of unaligned stakeholders?  Or your team has low levels of trust?  Or perhaps your team is focused more on tasks and less on outcome, and you want to empower and enable your team to take on more responsibility and think more about outcome?

After this moment of self-reflection, now look at the menu of values.  Which value presents the biggest problem or opportunity?

Let’s say, for the sake of this example, that your team is not always in sync.  If that’s the case, you can consider scheduling a daily or semi-daily standup.  Start with this.  Coach the team so that they understand the value of the standup, and what the yesterday / today / impediment standup is doing for the team.  If the team tries to solve problems in the standup, create a “parking lot” of items that you can discuss after you’ve conducted your standup.

After a few weeks, reassess.  Is the team more in sync?  If so, go back to the values.  Now what value causes you to stay up a night?  Is it the fact that you have no way to show if you are on track?  If so, consider release planning.

And so on.  In this way, your team can adopt the practices that work best for them.  You don’t have to do it all at once.  You can make progress incrementally and focus on improving the biggest problem or opportunity within your team.

For those of you who like things to be literal, I’ve put the values and ceremonies / artifacts on an actual menu:

Biz Funk Takeout Menu

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List of Companies That Are Using Biz Funk (AKA Non-Software or Non-Developer) Agile

I have been unable to find a simple list of companies that are using agile / lean for biz funk purposes (e.g., marketing, content development, finance, etc).  So I figured I’d create my own list.  I’ve only included examples that I could verify with at least one source.  Not a perfect method, since not everything on the internet is truthy, and some of the links are a few years old, but it is a start.  So consider this list to be one of those “living documents.”  And you can help to keep it alive!  If you know of another company that is using biz funk agile, please feel free to suggest it (and your source) in the comments.

Company Name, Team Type, Comment / Source(s):

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Biz Funk Meetup: Content Development & Marketing Go Lean

ImageHave you secretly been curious about the word “agile,” but were not quite curious enough to look it up?  Or have you never heard the word “agile,” but now find yourself strangely curious about it?  Do you like puppies?  If any of these things are true, the recent Agile for Business and Functional (Biz Funk) Teams meetup event is for you.  After some quick context-setting by the facilitators, a team writing a book and a marketing team discuss what prompted them to try agile and how it worked.  Check out the video of the event if interested!

Dennis Clemente blogged about the event here.

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Can Kaplan Use Agile Practices With Its Biz Funk Teams? Yes We Kanban!

I recently posted on the Kaplan Engineering blog — the post’s full text can be seen here — but wanted to post here the twelve things I’ve learned in helping a book-writing team write their book using Kanban:

  1. If someone says she wants to “go agile,” have lots of direct conversations with her about what that means before you start “going agile”
  2. When forming a new team, get executives excited about the idea first, as this makes everything else easier
  3. Be clear about the team’s goal immediately and often
  4. Be clear about non-negotiable things immediately (e.g., the book will need to go to the publisher on December 15th)
  5. Until you realize that coaching the team will take more of your time than than you initially thought, you will not be putting in enough time
  6. Starting a kanban pilot with a biz funk (AKA non-software) team is like adopting a puppy, but even though this is a totally brilliant / awesome and mostly accurate metaphor in a lot of ways, it is a little condescending somehow, and so I will refrain from going into this in more detail
  7. Aw heck, here’s one: show the value of the wee-wee pad early and be rewarded with good wee-wee pad habits for life
  8. It is 2012 and video conferencing is easy to use and often free, so if you ever have remote team members, they should be up on video for every single ceremony, no excuses, no exceptions (One exception: you can make do without video if hurricane Sandy has hit and public transit is down and your house does not have power and you are only able to dial into a meeting using a cell phone that’s been charged in your car)
  9. Whether you have remote team members or not, you should leave a group instant messenger chat window open all day, as this will help to quickly answer questions that would otherwise have become an impediment
  10. A team can adopt Kanban without knowing that they are adopting Kanban; simply use regular words to describe the value
  11. A well-run standup is a powerful thing for people who have never participated in one; if you do nothing else, conduct a well-run standup
  12. Someone, somewhere, will think less of you if you link to Wikipedia

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Coining Biz Funk Agile

As an Agile Coach for Kaplan Test Prep, I wondered what to call the flavor of agile adopted by our teams that do not create software.  Non-software agile?  Non-developer agile?  No-Code Agile?

Perhaps.  But who wants to be defined by the negative of another word?  Not me!

So, I’m coining the phrase Business & Functional Agile.  Biz Func Agile.  Biz Funk Agile.  BFA.

It’s agile for business teams (e.g., content & product) and functional teams (e.g., marketing & finance).

In Biz Funk Agile we trust.

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