Using Agile Methodology for non-software projects: The case of a young business woman in the catering industry

Servant Leadership, Agile, Scrum, Trello, Kanban, Product Backlog, Product Owner, and the list goes on and on. These were the words thrown at me each time I had a conversation with my good friend Joey. I understood him sometimes and other times I was like what? What is this dude talking about?

As an entrepreneur in the catering industry, I just wanted to come up with my menu for the week, advertise, get some orders, and deliver to my clients the best from our kitchen.

One afternoon, Joey introduced me to his friend Josh who expressed interest in buying from us and so I set off to deliver his lunch pack and to my not so surprised eyes, I saw a scrum board in his office. I thought to myself, birds of a feather flock together.

Several months down the line, in my confused state trying to put together and make sense out of these words thrown at me by Joey and Josh, I was invited to a free training workshop on Agile/Scrum by Blue Ocean Agility. I was determined to understand the meaning of these words and how I could incorporate them in my line of work and achieve the highest business value.

My first day in class I got to learn the definitions of Agile and Scrum. I am going to share a bit of what I learnt and how I incorporated that in Lams Kitchen Gh and the product we came up with as a result. Now let’s look at these definitions below;

Agile

“Agile is a set of values and behaviours, with a focus on continuous improvement and innovation which have resulted in a collection of lightweight technical and management practices”. – Rachel Gillett, Fast Company

Scrum

“Scrum is an Agile Management Process that allows us to focus on delivering the highest business value in the shortest time”. -Mike Cohn, Scrum Alliance

My understanding of Agile is captured in the definition below;

“Agile is a mindset, a way of working, a set of values and principles which focuses on delivering the highest business value in the shortest time by adopting the most suitable framework.” -Naa Lamiley Mills, Lams Kitchen Gh.

See Also:  Ageing with grace …Foundation to assist elderly

Brief Agile History

The use of Agile for developing products has been around for some time. It was originally conceived to be used in a software development context as a more successful way of producing software iteratively and incrementally.

Although Agile was created to help businesses in the IT and software development industry, the basic framework is applicable across industry, including the catering industry where we find ourselves as Lams Kitchen.

In the year 2001, 17 developers in the USA, known as “Organizational Anarchist” met to share ideas and forged the agile manifesto with its 4 key values and 12 principles that captured the essence of their methods.

Agile Manifesto

“We are uncovering better ways of developing software (product/service) by doing it and helping others do it. Through this work we have come to value:

Individuals and interactions over processes and tools

Working software over comprehensive documentation

Customer collaboration over contract negotiation

Responding to change over following a plan

That is, while there is value in the items on the right, we value the items on the left more”.

Have I confused you yet? Well, you can click on the link Agile Way to learn more about the 12 agile principles.

Before I zoom in to talk about how we have used agile at Lams Kitchen, let’s quickly look at the scrum values, don’t forget scrum is one of the agile process frameworks.

Scrum is based on a set of fundamental values. These values are the bedrock on which Scrum’s practices rest. – Ken Schwaber and Mike Beedle, Agile Software Development with Scrum, 2001

Scrum Values

  • Commitment
  • Focus
  • Openness
  • Respect
  • Courage

The Birth of Lams Basket

Agile is designed to welcome change, empower employees, and to take time to reflect. As an employee of Lams Kitchen Gh, the knowledge of agile scrum values and principles helped me get rid of my fear of failure and the unknown.

It gave me the audacity to start a new project without fear of failing. Our new project was to come up with a new product called Lams Basket. It was an idea of a picnic basket, I had seen other people do it but I did not know how to implement this idea and I was not sure of its acceptance.

See Also:  La state celebrates 30 years of relative peace and stability

One of Agile’s values is customer collaboration. As a fun-loving young executive, Georgina had her birthday approaching and she wanted a birthday picnic with her friends at the botanical gardens so that they could celebrate her milestone together.

Her acceptance Criteria was to have a basket full of about seven different meals for four people. Having in mind agile scrum values and principles, I collaborated with her in getting her the birthday picnic basket that met her acceptance criteria.

Back home, before bringing the basket to life, we put all the product requirements in a backlog to plan and prioritize tasks. Each member of the team selected how much work to commit to, from going to the market to delivering of the food basket to the client. Again we focused all our efforts on doing the work we committed to do in the planning and prioritization stage. We had short meetings each day for everyone in the team to be open about the work we had done and whether or not we had challenges. One value that gave us courage as a team to do this project was our respect for each other’s capabilities, agile value number 1; “we value Individuals and interactions over processes and tools”.

A day after Georgina’s birthday we introduced Lams basket to our other clients, they loved it but wanted something slightly different from our first basket. We reviewed their feedback and made iterations based on the feedback. This resulted in three different baskets known as;

  1. Lams Basket (Regular)
  2. Lams Basket (Mini)
  3. Lams Basket (Birthday)

At Lams Kitchen we combine both Scrum and Kanban (Scrumban) to allow us to focus on delivering the highest business value. To learn more about Agile Scrum and its applicability across industry visit www.lamskitchengh.com

>>>The author is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Lams Kitchen, a catering services provider in Ghana. Contact details: naa@lamskitchengh.com; +233 (0) 242153997; Facebook, Instagram, Twitter: @lamskitchengh

Leave a Reply

Please Login to comment
  Subscribe  
Notify of