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Why I love agile (and why we need to stop talking about it)

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Agile development, Digital transformation

I’m Kate, a delivery manager in DWP.

Kate Streatfield, DWP
Kate Streatfield, DWP

Agile changed my working life immeasurably when I enrolled on DWP’s Digital Academy just under three years ago.

I was a civil servant for seven years before attending the Academy and working on digital projects.

But I'd got to a point where although I liked the public service ethic, the interesting work and the highly capable people, I was jaded by a way of working which didn’t always put the user first.

Being re-born as a delivery manager on a digital project changed that. The focus on user needs, the short design sprints, continuously testing and iterating meant I was immediately hooked.

Agile is a broad term

Agile is a different way of working and I quickly realised the term is a broad one which means different things to different people. For me, agile means really focusing on what needs to get done to create value (it doesn’t necessarily have to involve Post-It notes, but they often help!).

So why do I like this way of working so much?

1. It's a team thing

Working within a team of capable people who care about the quality of what they do and want to get stuff done is great. And I am part of the team - not a dissociated 'boss'.

2. It's creative and fun

Agile teams should be set up to create a climate for fresh thinking. That often involves experimenting and non-linear ways of doing things - in turn, that makes life at work more fun!

For example, teams can create a visual product map that everyone can annotate or draw on. Being playful with ideas in this way helps unlock creativity and prevent the team dynamic from going stale.

A show and tell session
A show and tell session

3. It produces tangible results rapidly

Everyone likes to see progress and to feel that sense of pride in having done something that they can show and talk about.

Short design sprints and a focus on delivery are a big motivator - and more motivation drives more results.

4. The learning never stops

Agile builds in learning to the way we deliver things, to help them fit better in a complex world.

Learning about the thing we are working on through frequent feedback and testing, but also learning about the way we work, as a set of professionals in a team.

I'm a learning junkie, so I like that, and I know that in my experience, 'single pass' methods just don't work.

A stand-up session during DWP BA Awareness Week in Leeds
A stand-up session during DWP BA Awareness Week in Leeds

Agile should be ‘just the way we do things’

‘Living’ agile through a number of digital projects in the last three years has helped me rediscover my energy and my purpose. I’ve seen a lot in a 28-year IT and digital career, including many concepts that were doomed to failure from the start. Under the agile banner, things are more fluid, hope has returned and I’m not the only person talking about why that’s important.

But as much as I love it, I wish people like me didn’t have to talk about agile.

Because success for the future will mean that the word as a banner is redundant, that the term is hardly used as a point of difference.

Because it would mean agile is just the way we do things now.


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  1. Comment by Dean posted on

    Really well put, Kate!

  2. Comment by Doug posted on

    Excellent Blog Kate

  3. Comment by Avril posted on

    Great blog!

  4. Comment by Scott B posted on

    Nice blog Kate, totally agree 🙂

  5. Comment by Richard posted on

    Great blog Kate. I like you am really enjoying working in this way. Glad you got your buzz back!

  6. Comment by fionaannemillington posted on

    I am looking for employment within the civil service and have been using your beta sites, they are starting to work really well and I really like the new job application record you can keep in universal credit.