Season 3, Episode 2 – Adopting an Agile Mindset

Show Notes

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Show Transcript

[00:00:00.120] – David Maples

Hello, welcome back to The Buck Stops Here. I’m your host, David Maples. You are in Season 3 of The Buck Stops Here entitled The Metal Season. This is about courage and grit in the face of adversity and change in business. The second episode today is part of a two-part episode. This one is about adopting an agile mindset. Now, for those of you who did not catch the last episode of the podcast, you may want to go back and look at that because it’s going to talk in-depth about what it means to be an agile business. The last episode, we talked about the necessity of adapting quickly as market changes are happening at a more rapid pace. Then how do you break things down so you don’t get overwhelmed? Because that’s the big thing. It’s about breaking things down in their component parts, eating the elephant a bite at a time, and figuring out a good way to adopt this agility type mindset. Now, we’re actually going to talk about what an agile framework actually is. All that and more on this episode of The Buck Stops Here. What does it mean to be an agile business?


[00:01:20.060] – David Maples

What does it mean to adopt an agile framework? As we covered a lot of stuff in the last episode, we talked more about that. But basically, what this means is you have to be nimble and you have to change and you have to be looking at the different things you face in your business on a daily or weekly basis. Then how do you adapt to those changing circumstances? That’s really all it comes down to. There’s no really magic formula to what this means in your business. So rest assured, as long as you’re willing to adopt change in your business, then you’re in the right place. So what we’re going to talk about this a little bit today is we’re actually going to give you some actual a deep dive into what an Agile framework is. Now, there are entire books written on Agile and Scrum Mastery. Now, these are methodologies that have been adopted and used in software development. But I feel like they’ve been time tested for decades now. And I believe that most businesses could benefit from this. I’ve always believed, even though my background comes from marketing and consulting, I’ve always believed that good ideas are good ideas no matter where they come from.


[00:02:36.090] – David Maples

There’s no reason why you can’t borrow or even steal from a corollary industry that’s not related to yours at all. If you’re a software programmer and you find something that works really, really well in the real estate market, use it in your business. I think that’s one of the things we need to look at just from a cross-discipline standpoint, is that there are great ideas in tons of different industries. Great ideas in manufacturing, great ideas in sales. I don’t think you need to live in a dedicated silo and not learn from other businesses and not learn indeed from other component parts of your business. If you have a marketing arm, you should be learning from those. But today what we’re going to talk about is literally we are going to lift things wholesale from the software development realm. I’m going to try to… What we’ve done is we put together a free, agile framework that we believe any business can adopt. If you go to the podcast website, if you go to the Bucks Stops here, you can actually, for signing up for our newsletter, you can actually get access to these things for free.


[00:03:44.560] – David Maples

We’re actually putting actual things into each episode now so you can go get these tools and actually use them. Get there, download the PDF, print it out, use it to your heart’s content, and if you have questions about it, you can ask us anything on the show. We’re going to go through a nine-part agile framework, and we’re going to do some bonus discovery over what’s called task prioritization, dealing with the different things that you’re working with in your business. Assuming you’ve adopted an agile framework, let’s just pull up our sleeves, get our hands dirty, and talk about what this is. When you look at an agile framework, first of all, this is really a great way to handle projects or things you’re trying to tackle or accomplish that have some different and are thorny in there. You want to start by defining a clear vision and objective for your product or task. We’ve got this in there. What value are you trying to deliver to our customers or the people who are involved in the project? Project, this is going to be what is the way to guide you into getting your actions, decisions. For example, in any company, you say you want to adopt a new sales training program or something like that.


[00:04:58.250] – David Maples

You say, Okay, we want to adopt a new sales program. We want to have all of the salespeople in our organization to adopt this program, and we need to figure out how to break that down into vision, the objectives for it, and what value do we want our salespeople out of this? We’d like them to close 20% more deals, or we’d like them to feel like they are more effective in what they’re doing on a daily basis in their sales job. Then you just have that vision. You’ve write it out there first. If you want to, I suggest when you get your free agile framework from the site, you can literally just put that right at the top. Then what you want to do is you break down the goal into smaller, manageable tasks. You’re going to break down whatever your project is. Okay, cool. We’re working with a sales one. We want them to adopt a new sales program, new sales training program. What does that mean? Does that mean they have to watch webinars, go to a sales training class, they’re going to have to read a book? We’re going to have to break it down by chapters.


[00:06:00.730] – David Maples

You want to break each part of that project down into more manageable tasks, and you’ve got to look at all the things in it. Now, if any of these look too big, if any task you can’t explain it to someone else in about 5 or 10 seconds over what that task is and what’s needed to complete that task, the task is too big. You need to break it down into smaller parts. That’s what you’re going to have to do. That’s your first bellwether on that, is you literally just break it down into smaller pieces, and that’s what you do. Each task is something that can be completed within a defined time period, typically 1-2 weeks. For example, let’s say one of the tasks is to read this book. Well, can your sales people read that in 1-2 weeks with everything else they have going on? If not, maybe you need to break it down and say, Okay, we want to read the first three chapters of this book, or we want to watch these first four podcast videos, or we want to meet and talk about these things. Then what you’re going to do is you need to realize the next step of this is to prioritize your tasks.


[00:07:05.060] – David Maples

You need to figure out which tasks are most important, and you need to establish a prioritization framework based on the importance of the task and their value to the organization. You could simply do something like a high, medium, and low ranking. This is what another thing that’s available if you sign up for the newsletter is we’re going to talk a little bit about what is called the MOSCAL method. It just stands for must have, should have, could have, and won’t have, or wish. Just to dive into that for a minute. If you break that into Pundit Squares, it’s pretty simple. Must haves are things that at the end of this one week period or whatever it is for your time frame for this project, these are the non-negotiable things. They have to be done. Without this, the project to be considered a failure. For example, if you’re trying to get your people to adopt a new sales methodology and it’s required that they read a book, if no one’s read the book or read the first three chapters at the end of week one, then the project is a failure. It must be completed by this deadline.


[00:08:16.180] – David Maples

The should haves are important, but they’re not necessarily vital. You may decide that everybody has to have read the project and they should have answered the questions or should have answered how they’re going to incorporate that in the things. Maybe the should have is that we were going to have a discussion about this. Should have, they’re high priority, but they’re not necessarily as critical as the must haves. They can necessarily be postponed without jeopardizing the entire project. There’s no reason why you couldn’t have your people read the first three chapters of the book and then say, Continue on the chapters 4, 5, and 6. But for whatever reason, you couldn’t get together to break that down and really digest chapters 1, 2, and 3. You can move forward with that to the next part of the project without necessarily killing the project. The next one is what we call the could haves. These are the nice to have things that would help the project. Maybe in this particular case, maybe having a back and forth sales training type thing where they could go in and they could role-play scenarios based on what they just learned in this situation.


[00:09:23.690] – David Maples

Again, these are could haves. Basically, this is only usually considered if there’s enough time and budget. Now, I will say, just to let you know, is that a lot of times you have to reiterate these things, and we’ll talk about that in the next step of the Agile framework, you want to look at these things after the fact because you may have put too much stuff in your project to get accomplished in that one week. There’s nothing wrong with you coming back and addressing it and saying, Okay, cool, we couldn’t get some of these should-haves and could-haves done. We’d really like to make them must-haves in the next week. Let’s go recalibrate what we’re doing. Maybe you didn’t give your team enough time to go work through each one of those pieces on their own to go through there. The last of these pundit squares is things that fall into the won’t have category or wish category. These are requirements or features that you’ve agreed upon that they’re not part of this phase of the project, but you might like them down the road. Maybe the won’t haves in this phase of the project are actually implementing it and testing it out with actual clients where maybe you’re playing back your phone call transcripts or you’re playing back your Zoom meeting and seeing what you could have done differently.


[00:10:36.960] – David Maples

It’s something you haven’t had in this project, but it’s a wish thing too. It’s a bonus. Maybe some of your people take it upon themselves and say, Hey, I’d like to include that in this particular project. Generally speaking, these are things you’ve already established won’t be part of this if at all possible. But if you get them, that might be nice. Going back to the framework now. But that’s your prioritization. That’s where you’re going to spend a lot of time. Now, when you’re going through prioritization, you want to make sure you have other stakeholders. That’s people who are involved in whatever this project is. You want to have more than yourself coming up at this project. You don’t want to be monolithic and just run this from the top. You need to have people who are going to be involved in it and will help do these other pieces of the project as you move forward. For salespeople, this might be your sales trainers or your sales managers, and maybe a couple of your top sales people who will be involved in doing this moving forward. The next thing is that you want to break these down into what we call sprints.


[00:11:40.440] – David Maples

These are your time-limited things. You want to go ahead and say, Okay, cool, we want to work within a set period of time, call it two weeks or one week, and you’re going to aim to complete all the highest priority tasks. Now, at the same time, you can assign out the different tasks within this thing. It could be assigned to everybody in your organization. It could be that maybe something in the should have categories assigned to your sales manager. That’s okay. But you want to be able to look at this in a two week thing. Now, the daily check-ins. You want to hold short meetings each day, generally 15 minutes or less, where each team member explains what they did yesterday on the particular project and what they’re planning to do today and any obstacles they’re facing. And if it’s a sales training thing, you might have all the salespeople in there. Literally, it’s a way to hold people accountable for what they did and find out there’s maybe part of the sales training process was they needed to listen to particular chapters of an audiobook. But one of the obstacles or roadblocks they were facing is that your Audible account or what have you isn’t working properly and they can’t listen to the podcast.


[00:12:50.970] – David Maples

That is not something you necessarily need to handle that particular day. But if it comes up in that daily stand-up meeting, as we call them, you can actually look at that and figure out how to move that going forward. The next piece is what we call the retrospective. This is at the end of that set time period, at the end of the one week or two week. You want to take time to review the work that completed, reflect on what went well and what didn’t. And it’s an opportunity to learn from the mistakes and think about the improvements you can add to the next one. The next piece is the adapt and Iterate. Based on this retrospective, step 7 is to adapt your plan and processes for what you’re going to do moving forward. Remember, the goal of this is continuous improvement. So don’t be afraid to change things. If they aren’t working right, throw them out and fix them. As we’ve said before, rules are meant to be bent. And if a rule doesn’t work, you should break it. And then the next one is the customer feedback. You can share the progress with your customers or stakeholders.


[00:13:57.910] – David Maples

Remember, in this particular case, the customers of what you’re doing in the sales team, because I’m still using that, might be people in your account management department. They might be people in your bookkeeping and billing department, and they say, Oh, wow! Based on how your people are doing these things, it’s going to make following up on these jobs much easier. This way you can make sure you’re delivering value to those people. And remember, customers in your organization are not always just the external customers. And then the last piece is to celebrate your wins. Take time to acknowledge what your team’s done, what they’ve worked, what’s worked, and look at the completed tasks and milestones. This helps boost morale and helps your team adopt what you’re doing moving forward. This is the hard, deep dive into Agile frameworks and explain how you can make these be adopted in any size company. I believe in particular that these are really, really fundamental to adding in new pieces in your organization. And when you start looking at things, for example, we’ve talked about artificial intelligence recently, you need to sit down with your AI advisory board, which you may not have, but I’m just telling you right now you probably should get one, and you need to look at this because this is going to change stuff you do in your organization.


[00:15:16.420] – David Maples

You need to go ahead and sit down with that team and start saying, Okay, how do we implement changes in our organization? You don’t want to be caught flatfooted when this shows up in your organization in 6-12 months. It might be sooner. It may already be there for you right now. But the idea is that these are the things you need to look at. This episode is short, sweet to the point. I want you to take a look at these agile frameworks we provided for you and adopt this prioritization framework, which in the industry is called the M. O. S. K. M. Method. It’s just an acronym for must haves, should haves, could haves, and wishes, or won’t haves. That is actually a really easy way that you can improve the mental, mental, and your company. You can give yourself the armor and guard yourself in a way that’s going to let you have the grit and determination to face change and adversity and things that are coming down in the pipeline right now in this changing business environment because it’s only accelerating from here. That wraps up another exciting episode of The Buck Stops Here.


[00:16:24.700] – David Maples

Thank you for tuning in and joining us. If you like today’s episode, please leave us a review on Apple Podcast. Your feedback is greatly appreciated and helps us improve, and it also helps other business owners like you find the show. Don’t forget to follow us on social media. That’s Twitter or X, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn for giveaways, updates, and exclusive content. I’m David Maples. Be well, be awesome, and have a great week.


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