Nimble Planning in the Next Normal

Highlights from webinar #3 in our Moving Forward Series

In the first two webinars of our three-part series, we examined our collective future work environment from an employee-first lens and how to align teams to meet changing business priorities. For the third webinar, Ho’onani Andermann, consultant, and Bryan Rogers, director, at Propeller explored, Responsive and Nimble Planning in the Next Normal.” 

Responsive and nimble planning is about embracing adaptiveness, something that has been tested in spades for companies throughout this pandemic. Teams in companies everywhere have shown the ability to adapt to rapid change through strong teamwork, creativity, flexibility, humility, inclusivity, and an acknowledgement of the unknown. Teams have responded often reactively and in the moment, because they needed to. But what would it look like if you and your team could proactively plan an effective and agile response that better positions you for success in the next normal? 

Tapping an agile methodology to build highly responsive teams 

Twelve principles define the agile methodology. This webinar recap highlights four of those principles that serve to help keep teams nimble and responsive no matter what changes around them. In each section, we provide tools and templates that can help you frame up these concepts into actionable toolkits. 

4 Methods of Nimble Planning
4 Methods of Nimble Planning

1. Self-Organization

In rapid change, one size may not fit all, and any delays in response can be costly. Self-organizing teams do not depend on or wait for a manager to assign work. Instead, these teams find their own work and manage the associated responsibilities and timelines.

Allowing teams to creatively initiate working solutions can improve engagement and lead to more innovative ideas. Consider what subject areas need decisions, iterations, or rapid responses, and identify the right combination of teams to take ownership accordingly. This allows for a decentralization of decisions, providing clarity and more free time to front line workers and decision makers.

Toolkit Download: Decision Rights Framework
Toolkit Download: Decision Rights Framework

2. Reflection and Iteration 

Instead of breaking projects into common stages like planning, designing, implementing, and assessing—build those four components into iterative cycles that produce feedback for team reflection. This helps build buy-in and accountability, while honing and clarifying the best next steps. 

It’s also important to build in a team communication cadence with specific protocols to help foster trust within internal teams. With iteration comes failure, so establishing a high level of trust—one that encourages a growth mindset—is essential for turning failures into quick lessons the group can iterate on and spin into a new cycle. 

Agile Iterative Cycles
Agile Iterative Cycles

3. Prioritization 

Iteration allows teams to divide work streams into manageable chunks, rather than building toward one final product. Because you are working in smaller bite-size deliverables, the team will need to prioritize and re-prioritize frequently based on new insights and in the context of the larger goal(s). Charting work streams and scoring their urgency, business value, complexity, and cost/duration allows teams to determine the best impact-to-effort ratio. 

Toolkit Download: Impact/Effort Ratio Prioritization Tool
Toolkit Download: Impact/Effort Ratio Prioritization Tool

4. Visibility and Communication 

The final agile principle recommends teams use visualization tools such as standups (status updates), dashboards, and reports to help chart a meaningful course. These become important structures for teams to assemble around to continue building trust and getting the work done. 

Finally, in today’s virtual world, it’s important to prioritize communication and the sharing of information clearly and transparently. Consider the impact you want the communication to have, what needs to be understood, who should represent the message, and the channel(s) and cadence in which the message should be disseminated. 

As with any change you implement with your team, we recommend starting small, and committing to these new processes—even when they don’t seem to work right away. Change is not easy, so be patient. 

Pick a few of the above processes or start with just one team. As success mounts, expand these agile principles cross-functionally and at various leadership levels. Having your senior directors practicing the same iteration and reflection process allows trust to build within and down through leadership levels—modeling an effective best practice for every team and individual at your company. 

Propeller Sample Internal Communications Plan
Propeller Sample Internal Communications Plan

Download Activation Tool kit PDF


Moving Forward Recap

With an eye on the changing work environment, Propeller hosted three webinars between July 21 and August 19 focused on leading people and organizations through the new normal. The first webinar, Designing Future Work Environment with an Employee-First Lens, discussed how organizations can evolve to meet the needs of the current moment, including tips and materials to help you analyze your business, assess employee readiness, and pivot towards the future. The full conversation and collateral materials from all three webinars can be found here for your use. 

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