The Silicon Valley Agile Leadership Network started with a handful of people meeting in a San Jose library, and today they have 4,600+ members and are considered Silicon Valley’s most active and largest Agile/Lean community.
Since their humble beginnings in 2011, they’ve hosted over 120 meetups to help educate Agile and Lean skills to their members, as well as building their community to serve as a networking platform. By listening to members, exploring their interests and understanding their priorities, they’ve successfully built a community that supports growth, inspiration and meaningful relationships. We’re proud to be founding members and partners with this incredible organization and the community members in it!
4,600 Members and Growing
For over 20 years, organizations have used Agile practices to deliver value at an effective pace, create high quality products, and exceed customer expectations. A fundamental principle that makes Agile methodology so successful is prioritizing community and collaboration over processes and tools.
Successful Agilists encourage each other to cross-pollinate ideas and share new ways of thinking. They emphasize collaboration across teams to work together to explore new frontiers, expand project goals, and empower growth as leaders – individually and as a cohesive unit.
So, how can you inspire community building as an Agile leader?
- Start with what you have. You’re going to need a venue (or online platform) and you’re going to need members, but don’t let that stop you from starting! Use a mindset of a “Minimal Viable Product” to meet and choose low-fidelity rather than over-plan. This could mean, get a few co-workers to have an “Agile” coffee or even an “Agile” beer together – even if this means in a virtual setting.
- Listen, discuss and take action. Take the time to listen to feedback, discuss concerns and brainstorm ideas with your group. A healthy community is heard, understood and takes meaningful action.
- Create an environment of support and trust. Whether you’re at home or at work, communication and trust is key to a well-functioning community. Encourage your peers to help each other grow by sharing new perspectives and opinions of Agile thinking. Think about the “yes, and…” mindset. Many times this means that a meetup can also serve as a job network.
- Prioritize engagement within your organization and across to other companies. Who are the seeds and amplifiers in your community? How can they help your community expand? Whether you’re creating an internal community, like a Center of Excellence, or a public community, like a meetup, these people can help “multiply” your group. The most efficient and effective way of growing is to invite others to speak or host a meeting. This gives them shared ownership and a platform to share their ideas.
- Stay flexible and have fun. Make meetings a community event (pro tip: bring food or a drink!) to encourage relationship building over strict business talk. The interactions created help everyone to learn from one another.
- Keep it active. Skip the speeches. Rather, take a hands-on approach to learning. Have workshops with activities, bring in speakers with real company examples and war stories, or have engaging brainstorms.
- Expand your Agile community outside of work. Your Agile community can extend outside of your workplace. There are hundreds of Agile groups, events and meetups to join all around the world. Consider attending a conference or diving into a podcast to hear from Agile thought leaders from a variety of industries and backgrounds.
A true story. After randomly meeting someone at a breakfast table at an Agile conference years ago, AgileCamp at Nike World Headquarters was born. This is a one-day Agile community conference in Beaverton, Oregon every year since 2017. Together, Hyperdrive and Nike created an AgileCamp that has impacted thousands! Amazing what a simple conversation can lead to.
There are many ways to create a strong Agile community (both virtually and in-person) that is passionate about their work and supportive of one another. What are some ways that you encourage community in your team or networks? Share your thoughts with us!
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