Knowing Why You Care About Agile Matters

As a team, we’re all pretty good at customer service. We consistently score 9 out of 10 for the category on our customer exit surveys. If we were another team, we could probably call it a day there. But since we’re not that other team, we know we could all be doing better. So that’s what we’re going to do.

To contribute to that effort, I’ve been conducting a series of on-going dialogues with Arcweb Technologies engineering team members to capture their experiences and perspectives. One particularly enlightening session triggered a revelation about how we think about Agile and how it ties into customer service. I decided to bring it back to Arcweb leadership and ultimately posed the following question to the entire team:

As a consulting firm, why do we care about Agile?

Arcweber answers to this question were not too varied:

“Because you ship faster.”

“You iterate your way to perfection.”

“You get things done faster/cheaper.”

“You can see failures earlier and pivot sooner.”

If you look at this sample of responses, you can see that they’re all noticeably focused on an outcome or the project’s bottom line. The first time that I posed this question to myself, I noticed that my gut response was along a similar train of thought.  

This is wrong.

These are all fine benefits of Agile, but they’re not the reason for us to focus on it—especially in the context of customer service.

For us, as consultants, every account is a relationship, and every project should be considered part of a journey. To make the most of that relationship and ensure that the outcome of each journey is satisfying for every member involved, we need clear and concise communication. Without that, there can be no shared vision, and the success of the project is doubtful at best.

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At its core, Agile/Scrum methodologies are a series of activities designed to increase the opportunities for communication while simultaneously removing the barriers to a shared vision. We follow these activities because they are our best hope of sharing the vision and making the journey a successful one.

So whether you live in the Agile world or not, I am extending to you a challenge:

Rearrange your thoughts so that better communication is the first reason for doing something. Then, let your actions and words follow from this change.  See how your communication, relationships and, in turn, customer service improves.

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