This is a part of the Creative Problem Solving Toolkit (2023).
Use when planning for action.
This tool uses both Divergence and Convergence.
What and Why?
Agile Planning is a valuable approach to address the issue of excessive time spent on planning that often fails when confronted with reality. It emphasizes the creation of short-term plans to achieve long-term goals. The process begins by identifying the desired goal and the specific outcomes to be attained. A timeline is established for the overall accomplishment of the goal, and key milestones are determined to mark progress along the way. Working backward, the first milestone within the initial month is defined. A detailed plan is then formulated to reach this milestone. As the first milestone approaches, the focus shifts to learning and adaptation. Lessons learned and feedback received are used to evaluate and refine the plan for subsequent milestones. By embracing change and continuously incorporating newfound knowledge, Agile Planning allows for a flexible and responsive approach to goal achievement in an ever-evolving environment.
Use this tool if you want to:
Enable flexibility and adaptability in response to changing circumstances.
Promotes rapid response to change, reducing the time between identifying a change and implementing a response.
Foster collaboration, engagement, and shared ownership among team members and stakeholders.
Facilitate continuous improvement by incorporating a learning mindset and feedback-driven iterations.
A. Sequence of Steps and Time Allocation (45 minutes)
Discuss next steps with the group:
Debrief the activity. Invite the group to share what they experienced as a result of using this tool.
B. How Groups Are Configured
This activity works well with groups of 5-7.
A larger group can be divided into groups of 5-7 with each smaller group working on a different goal or taking a different approach to the same goal.
C. How Space Is Arranged and Materials Needed
Seating for small groups of 5-7
Flip chart markers
Flip chart sheets or Paper rolls on walls to create space for a timeline.
Tips and Watchouts
When tackling a complex task, ask yourself - “What is the first thing I need to accomplish?” Focus on this task and when it has been completed, ask yourself “What is the next thing I need to accomplish?”
Tips and Watchouts
Agile Planning is all about adapting to change. Embrace flexibility and be open to adjusting plans, priorities, and approaches as new information emerges or circumstances evolve.
Break down long-term goals into smaller, manageable milestones. This helps track progress, maintain motivation, and provides opportunities for early wins.
Prioritize tasks based on their value and impact. Focus on completing high-priority items first, ensuring alignment with the overall goal.
Conduct frequent retrospectives and reflect on completed milestones or iterations. Identify what worked well and what could be improved. Use this feedback to enhance future planning and execution.
Agile planning does not guarantee that all desired outcomes will be achieved. Ensure expectations are realistic, avoid making promises you may not be able to keep, and help stakeholders understand the iterative and responsive nature of Agile Planning.
Agile planning encourages learning and continuous improvement. Failing to embrace retrospectives or not acting on the lessons learned can hinder progress and limit the benefits of Agile.
Sometimes it is not possible to create a detailed plan because all the stakeholders who need to be involved may not be in the room. In this case do not rush the group to commit to a plan that does not include the people required for its success.
Riffs and Variations
After all the post-its have been generated listing all the possible tasks and milestones that need to be completed, invite the group to organize them into categories such as:
Tasks to be accomplished by month-end
Tasks to be accomplished by quarter-end
Tasks to be completed in next 6 months
Tasks to be completed by year-end
Tasks that need to be completed beyond year-end.
Use this process of sorting to finetune the sequence in which tasks need to be completed and to also identify any parallel timelines.