Agile – an update

Following my presentation on agile working and service delivery at Diabetes UK for the Third Sector Digital Leaders programme last year, Zoe and Dave kindly invited me back to present to the latest cohort a couple of weeks ago; coincidentally during Diabetes Week.

I focused again on our use of Agile methodology to develop our digital Know Your Risk tool, but took the opportunity to update it with new things I’ve learned, as well as more on how we as a charity have adapted to a new (small ‘a’) agile approach to working since we moved to our new central office in Whitechapel in September 2016.

One of the many good things about our new base, apart from it being less expensive than our previous office, is that we have a big ‘town hall’ space with a kitchen, where it’s easier for the whole charity to gather, as well as making it easier to bump into colleagues and have an interesting chat while getting a cup of coffee.

The wider world of Agile

Just before my latest presentation I bumped into my colleague Richard from the database team who had just been to a useful presentation from Tom Gilb – his key takeaway was to take an approach to requirements definition that kept refining to remove any ambiguity – to really hone each one down to a basic, clear, universally understood definition.

I also followed on Twitter an excellent workshop session on Agile from Econsultancy, serendipitously the day before my own session. One highlight was the use of the term ‘Wagile’ to refer to organisations who end up with a kind of hybrid of Waterfall and Agile project management, which might sound bad to purists but could just reflect the fact that not every organisation can take a textbook Agile approach.

I was interested to see a new JustGiving blog post from Zoe about Agile, sparked by a report into money wasted by ineffective Agile projects possibly turning the tide of opinion against the methodology. Zoe and her contributors really got to the heart of the new and more nuanced approach needed to get the best from Agile, especially if you can’t take a textbook approach – you might never expect to get your whole organisation working in a ‘pure’ Agile way but you can, as I’ve mentioned before, at least cherrypick the best elements and underpin it with a more ‘agile’ mindset.

Zoe also wrote a nice summary of some of the highlights of the latest cohort on her own blog – it was good to see that the people on the programme felt that my experience of introducing ‘agile by stealth’ could be something that could work for them too. As long as everyone appreciates it’s in the ‘subtle’ rather than ‘sneaky’ sense of the word! 🙂

 

 

IoF & Facebook Social Good Summit – London, 2 June 2017

This free one-day conference at Facebook’s office in London last Friday, run in association with the Institute of Fundraising, was a chance for charities to learn more about how to make the most of both Facebook and Instagram for their charities and communities – I was especially keen to hear about Instagram, as I have long been a fan and feel that charities could make more of this social network, while realising that it comes with some limitations.

I’ve Storified the event highlights here.

Of course, the past few months, and especially the past few days, have been overshadowed by horrific terrorist attacks in London and Manchester. While there are different schools of thought on how much the big tech and social media companies can or should do in the fight to prevent these atrocities, the defiant response, including bravery, hope, love, generosity and even humour, has been woven together and strengthened with the help of social media and digital tools such as JustGiving.

Social network users were able to alert people to what was happening, often faster than official breaking news sources (but obviously with the occasional confusion or misinformation that can come from that) – and social media, especially Facebook’s Safety Check tool, could help in the aftermath of the attacks, allowing users to announce if they’re safe and reassure friends and family… as well as allowing everyone to remember and honour the victims, fundraise to support people affected, and be part of defiantly carrying on with their own lives.

Safety Alert was originally developed as a response to natural disasters but in recent years has been used in response to terrorist attacks.

Early on in Friday’s event there was an unexpected moment of levity around this serious feature, when an automated safety announcement at Facebook’s London HQ interrupted the speaker just as he was talking about Safety Check… and as the announcements continued, despite them being introduced as a drill, there was a mounting communal sense of “Should we evacuate…?” – and with almost comic timing there was a pause before a final recording announcing the end of the drill, when the collective sigh of relief was as audible as the nervous laughter at what had just happened.

Of course, we couldn’t have known just how soon the feature would tragically be needed again, with the horrendous attack in London the following night, bringing it all the more close to home.

Here’s an interesting piece on what Facebook does with Safety Check data, and some more background info on the tool and how it has (and hasn’t) been deployed.