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Past, present and future of "Agile for the Real World"

"A brilliant masterclass in agile – WOW!"

It's clear that “Transform Academy: Agile for the Real World” a few weeks ago was well received again.

Using feedback is a key part of agile – but like many simple ideas, using feedback can be misunderstood and often overcomplicated.

Knowing that we're on the right track gives us a warm glow, but more than that, specific feedback helps us learn and improve things fast and cheaply.

We decided to develop the course content for “Agile for the Real World“ using agile principles. The Academy session is not focused on software development (a common use for agile), so why would you need a problem-solving technique like agile to develop an Academy course?

Feedback to help you get things right is one benefit of agile but also efficiency and time to market.

Following agile working, we developed the course content with a small multidisciplinary team with different views but an agreed common aim: to get agile more widely used within our business.

“Good mix of theory and practical”

We wanted to optimise the use of everyone's time and maximise the value of our work.

We started with some material we had around already, but rather than refining it - and in particular making it look pretty on slides - we put together the bare minimum of a workshop session and put it out to trial.

This willingness to show something at a very early prototype stage and an almost ruthless efficiency of time are the hallmarks of agile.

Our first “users” were managers at Transform who wanted their team to be using agile. These are busy people (as were the course developers), so the aim was to test and learn as quick as possible.

Our first trial didn't have a full set of material to show and test - and what's more we didn't even show them all we did have. We decided to run each exercise just long enough to see where a big change was needed, or to see that the exercise was working so we could continue with the development. In agile terms, the hypothesis we were testing was: does this material work and what’s the feedback to help improve?

It was a bit of a surprise for some of our early testing “users” when an exercise that seemed to be going very well was cut short with a “thanks very much - that's OK, we will move on”. We had got what we needed from the test - and made no claim that it was finished or ready to go to market.

“Made agile make more practical sense”

Having the environment to make this work need the right culture. Managers coming to test our first material would gain some benefits from it, but they were there also to give us honest comments on what was working and what to improve. Even though they were our “customers” - they weren't there to tell us what to do but to say what worked for them and what didn't. The Product Owner would then decide what changes to make.

“Demystified and simplified”

We got a host of learnings from those early trials and one of these was to strip out all mention of software development from our material. We didn't talk about T-shirt sizes or “Burn down” (topics that Agilists love to debate) - but we focused on what really makes the fundamental parts of agile work well. This helped get everyone at the Academy session engaged and working together.

“Good summary at the end”

Here's our course summary:

Like all good summaries - there's lots more behind each of these items.

To find out what good stuff there is you'll need to “test and learn” yourself by joining our next workshop. To secure your place today, just email us at

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