Agile development may have been designed for software engineers, but it can be an effective way to complete almost any kind of project -- if you follow some key guidelines
Build small, cross-functional teams
Putting employees from different departments on a single team helps them finish projects faster. Rather than submitting a formal request to another department, employees can simply ask a teammate for help. Plus, getting employees to work closely with co-workers in other departments fosters teamwork and innovation companywide.
Break large projects into small tasks
Some challenges don't become apparent until a project is already in progress. By breaking the project into smaller pieces, a company can more easily change direction if needed.
Set short deadlines
Instead of waiting to see if a project is hitting the mark, set weekly or monthly deadlines; this allows the company to rapidly evaluate progress.
Hold daily meetings
Every morning, teams gather briefly to discuss progress, voice problems, and set daily goals. That way, all employees know what is expected of them, and problems are promptly dealt with as they arise.
Invite customers into the design process
Having a few customers test new products and services as they are being created keeps employees from veering off too far in the wrong direction and allows them to quickly scrap ideas that don't work.
Last updated: May 1, 2009
DARREN DAHL is a contributing editor at Inc. Magazine, which he has written for since 2004. He also works as a collaborative writer and editor and has partnered with several high-profile authors. Dahl lives in Asheville, NC.