Only a few year ago Feng Shui office decoration was the hottest trend. Nowadays the management focuses on agile work organization. It’s wrong to say that agile means only colorful stickers and boards. Agile manifesto reflects the importance of communication, flexibility and responsibility for decisions taken. Get to know Natalia from A1 Belarus and her approach.

We met Natalia Mironova, Head of Product and Business Solutions Development Department and discussed how to help teams to switch to agile work and how this method helps in daily life.

Agile philosophy: The importance of communication and absence of red tape.

Natalia, how do you see the agile movement at A1 Belarus?

Now we are starting to get a clear picture of it, but with its own perks. We don’t take a classic agile model and blindly follow it. Instead, we try to work choosing the best from each method to help our company grow and develop.

What agile methods do you use in your team?

We are still new in this but we will create an efficient process of agile working. Now we use several agile instruments: Kanban board to frame and visualize an entire task list; weekly sprints and daily meetings in our team: each member of the team tells what he or she did the previous day, what problems were faced and the plans for the current day two minutes

Informal coffee meetings are the most effective and a fast way to solve current issues.

Each participant of the meeting writes a problem that bothers him or her on a sticker, than we stick them on the board, aggregate and vote for the topics that bother most people. Then we discuss and try to solve them together. Facilitation process also gets more and more popular. There are some guys in our group who have already completed trainings on this method and successfully use it. The thing is that sometimes at business meetings when you need to discuss a certain question and take a fast decision, a colleague turns the conversation 360 degrees and your initial goal of the meeting is not completed. This method helps to keep the discussion on the right path.

Are there any directions for development of agile methods in the company now?

Yes, of course. Our main goal is to create a process of launching products with the departments that take part in it. We do not work in isolation within our department, we are part of a larger system, where all processes are interconnected. Therefore, it is important that we all work on the same agile wavelength. Today we already have shared boards with other departments and reviews after launching large activities. For example, after launching a tariff plan we have a meeting with all participants of the project and discuss advantages, disadvantages and problems that we’ve faced while working at this project. It helps us making some changes in the ways of work in order to avoid such problems going forward.

What should teams, which would like to work with agile systems methodologies, pay attention to in the first place?

The most important thing is to keep in mind is no man is an island. All members of the team have to accept this system and have to be ready for changes. They can start with Informal coffee for a smooth transition. The advantage of this method is that nobody is yet aware that it’s already agile meaning less reluctance to changes. Visualization is, of course, another important aspect. As soon as we started to stick tasks to the board, the people got some kind of drive in their work and started to compete with each other. And you also need to have regular meetings and feedback from all participants. Reviews. You can’t just walk in the office one day and tell your colleagues that tomorrow we will start to work agile. It’s a long process.

How do you use agile outside your work?

I’ve read about implementing this principle in the family life, but I don’t have any boards or stand-ups in my personal life. It’s more like a professional deformation now. I see many of my household things through a lens of the processes built inside our team. For example, when planning my day, I use some kind of Kanban inside my head: what I need to do, what I can do and if I’m satisfied with the result. Sometimes I use facilitation process to come to a decision with my family or friends.

And are you already working agile? If yes, we’d like to hear your story about it!