Squads, Scrum, OKRs, Kanban and Design Sprint: how to combine agile practices and gain more efficiency
One of the most significant learnings of the agile mindset is adaptation. Choosing the most appropriate tools for your context is essential. So we bring you the practices you can use to transform your business!
We all know that agile methodologies are not written in stone. In reality, we are talking about a set of practices that should be used to manage projects and demands to adapt to changes and gain efficiency quickly. Squads, Scrum, OKRs, Kanban, and Design Sprints are just a few.
To clearly define which of these practices you will embrace with your team, we decided to create this article to show you the benefits.
What are Squads?
A Squad is nothing more than a team formed by people with different technical and academic skills to solve a problem or perform a project. The practice is very common within agile logic.
This multidisciplinary team has a Product Owner who has the role of defining the project’s priorities under development. It is important to highlight that this Squad must have the autonomy to act since it needs to develop solutions and adapt quickly to changes.
What are the benefits of Squads?
Working with lean teams focused on solving a challenge brings several benefits to your project. Here are some of them:
The multidisciplinarity of the team exists for a reason. After all, one of the great strengths of Squads is to have all the expertise and surround all possibilities to solve problems. With different looks, we can think of ideas that would not exist in a homogeneous group.
Another great benefit of Squads is their adaptability. This is because the team – together with the Product Owner – has more autonomy in decision making and can change the route whenever necessary.
Clear definition of assignments
When we bring together professionals in Squads, the division of roles and responsibilities is clear. With that, all team members know exactly what they should do and what their contributions are to the success of the project.
What is Scrum?
Scrum is a framework used to manage projects or teams. In this model, tasks are divided into cycles called sprints, usually of no more than two weeks. Unlike other models, Scrum plans deliveries in small pieces, bringing a series of benefits, as we will see.
The Product Owner is the person responsible for prioritizing tasks, and the Scrum Master is the one who will perform the team’s ceremonies.
Some of these ceremonies:
- Daily Stand-ups – daily meetings to align demands.
- Sprint planning – used to define the tasks that will be prioritized in the sprint.
- Retrospective meeting – to identify points for improvement and virtues.
> We suggest reading our ebook “Design Thinking and Agile” so that you can go deeper into this subject and understand how these methodologies work together!
What are the benefits of Scrum?
Compared to other methodologies, Scrum has several advantages and is highly recommended in a scenario of constant change. Let’s understand the reasons.
As Scrum works with the logic of making small deliveries with frequent feedbacks, the ability to adapt is much greater. If you notice that a new user story has emerged, it is easier to redefine priorities in a new sprint planning without harming the project as a whole.
Reduction of rework
Have you ever imagined making a big delivery for your client or company and realizing it was not what they really needed? Again, the fact that Scrum works with short deliveries helps reduce rework, as we can receive constant feedback and iterate what we are developing.
Environment for innovation
Finally, Scrum is also a structure that offers more openness to innovation. “Fail fast, learn faster” is a viable mantra for teams that work with this framework, as they will always have the possibility to correct errors or perform tests between sprints.
What are OKRs?
OKR stands for Objectives and Key Results. Created by Andrew S. Grove, former CEO of Intel, and widely disseminated by John Doerr, one of Google’s investors, OKRs divide planning into two main components:
- Objectives (O)
- Key Results (KRs)
The Objective must inspire employees and represents a real need for the company. In contrast, the Key Results represent a quantitative analysis, of goals with a direct and measurable impact that helps achieve these Objectives.
It is worth remembering that we can have several Key Results for an Objective. Besides, the company’s OKR is known as a “father,” but we must not forget its “children,” which are the OKRs of each department. These OKRs also need owners, who can be the CEO, managers, etc.
Want an example?
O = Bring customers to the company and become a reference.
KR1 = Increase organic customers by 40%
KR2 = Generate five more commercial partnerships
What are the benefits of OKRs?
OKRs gained fame because they were adopted by Google and supported the company’s exponential growth from 1999. Understand why the methodology is so impactful:
Alignment between the team
When everyone knows exactly where the company wants to go and the expected quantitative results, the team’s engagement, and alignment are higher. This influences the entire dynamics of the teams, including the formulation of sprints.
Transparency of results
With the OKR model, we can closely monitor each of the KRs to discover where we are failing and the points for improvement. Employees can monitor all OKRs, regardless of the department.
By working with short cycles, OKRs allow for a process of continuous improvement. After all, what results do we want that have not been completed? What actions do we take? What was the performance? All of these questions are answered and can lead us to solutions.
What is Kanban?
Kanban is a physical or digital framework used to define and control the team’s tasks’ flow. Typically, cards of different colors and formats are used to stimulate the professionals’ visual perception.
In Kanban, we divide the tasks into columns related to the task’s execution phase, such as: to do, doing, and done. These are just examples, as the team defines which columns are needed.
What are the benefits of Kanban?
The tool is used by several companies, from SMEs to market giants. After all, it is simple and easy to implement. Understand more about its benefits:
Kanban reduces bottlenecks, especially when combined with Scrum frameworks. This is because this “couple” makes communication between the team possible. The employee has the opportunity to show the points that are blocking his activity.
Kanban is a visual tool that allows teams to have a perception of what everyone is doing. Thus, no one is surprised: if there is a perception that a task is taking too long, the team can discuss the possible causes.
Gain more efficiency
Of course, if everyone is aligned and knows the tasks being performed, the whole team gains more efficiency in carrying out the tasks. One of Kanban’s main goals is to optimize the team’s performance.
What is Design Sprint?
Have you ever imagined prototyping and testing ideas with end-users in just five days? This is the value that Design Sprints bring to the table.
Basically, it works as a “design thinking express,” as it accelerates steps to validate ideas quickly. In the sprint design cycle, we have the following steps:
- Understand (review user and background insights);
- Brainstorm (debate what is possible);
- Prioritize (classification solutions, choose one);
- Make a prototype (create a minimal viable concept);
- Test (note what is effective for users).
Remember when we talked about sprints? This is also a type of sprint for agile methodologies, but this time, supported by design thinking and focused explicitly on prototyping and testing.
What are the benefits of Design Sprint?
Another methodology used by Google. Of course, Big Tech wouldn’t use it for no reason. Let’s mention its advantages!
Make mistakes faster
Making mistakes is sometimes seen as a problem, but it is not. The secret of innovative companies is that they are champions in making mistakes. The difference is that they are small ones and tend to be calculated. The Design Sprint opens the window to validate hypotheses quickly and, if necessary, return to the starting point without compromising performance as a whole.
New offers and features
It is imperative to keep the radar on to keep up with trends in a volatile and fast-moving world. With Design Sprints, we can follow them closely and create solutions in record time to meet new market demands.
Transforming data into action
To close, this type of practice is also highly recommended to get insights from data and turn them into action plans. Thus, they work in the process of continuous improvement within an application or in the company as a whole.
These are just a few examples of agile practices recommended by MJV Technology & Innovation. There is a sea of possibilities. As you have seen, the most important thing is to find the most appropriate solution for your business and always focus on gaining more efficiency.