Common Agile Learning Hurdles and How to Jump Them

agile learning hurdles

As training teams begin to adopt Agile Learning methodologies, growing pains are inevitable. Agile Learning hurdles are just another part of the implementation process that must be addressed.

Transitioning to a new format can be difficult for any professional, and not just those in learning and development. You’ll have to consider your subject matter experts’ role in new Agile Learning training projects as well as your training team.

Let’s have a look at some common hurdles teams encounter when incorporating Agile into their course development. Most of these revolve around employees’ possible resistance to certain procedures required for Agile. However, with some anticipation and troubleshooting, successful deployments using Agile are possible.

virtual training

1. Employees are not used to Sprints

A crucial part of the Agile process, sprints require the rapid completion of assigned tasks, usually within 1-2 weeks.

Of course, employees often work with deadlines already. However, the rather quick turnaround can alienate many employees, especially when these sprints occur in succession.

This will require some adjustment on the part of employees. Demonstrate to each employee the impact of his or her contribution. Explain how if he or she did not complete the task within the sprint, then the project would fall behind schedule. This is not meant to threaten, but rather to encourage employees.

In fact, learning about the impact of their work on the big picture in such a short time frame may motivate training project participants.

2. Employees are skeptical about Daily Standups

Weekly meetings and conference calls may be the norm in most organizations.

But giving a daily report of the previous day’s completed tasks? Not so much.

Daily Standups are another necessary component of Agile. In this process, each team member must—and sometimes literally—stand up and explain to the rest of the team what he or she worked on the previous day. This process brings transparency and a sense of accomplishment.

Some may not feel comfortable doing this. They may feel that it breeds gamesmanship, or a way for the manager to pit one team member against another. However, this is not the case. Explain that it is simply a way to create stronger communication and openness amongst team members. Further, questions and discussion are encouraged.

agile learning hurdles using kanban boards

3. Kanban Boards frighten people

Working with Kanban-style project management boards might also be something new for employees involved in a learning project.

As a single view of all ongoing projects, organized in lists and with team members assigned to each task, it can often seem overwhelming for people. Some may also question the necessity of displaying all of the tasks, especially for parts of the project which do not involve that employee.

Further, some may feel it creates unhealthy or unfair competition, as completed tasks may receive certain colors or icons—rewarding some while embarrassing others.

It’s important to explain that this complete view is intended to help keep the project stay on track—not to shame anyone. Demonstrate how everyone can learn from others and that the total view contributes to a successful outcome using Agile.

4. Employees want to stick to their old habits

As we’ve written before, change is hard, and employees may balk at having to implement a new process. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, they think. Why should they have to re-learn a way of producing learning content when the old way was perfectly fine?

This is a big hurdle, admittedly. This is where the shrewd L&D leader must demonstrate the benefits of Agile to naysayers and newcomers.

It might be helpful to demonstrate the expected outcomes of implementing Agile, and how these methodologies will improve the organization’s output. Create an easily understandable mini-course, titled The Case for Agile, for example, that will educate, inspire, and motivate team members.

When they realize that their contributions will have deeper and more far-reaching impact, they will be sold on it.

agile learning team

5. The proper tools may not be in place

Another hurdle may be technology-related: some teams may think that they do not have the tools to carry out Agile Learning.

However, this is unfounded. Every project management tool has a way to implement Agile, including creating Kanban boards and assigning tasks with due dates, reminders, and labels.

Again, while the tools might not be new, the process will be. While some employees may be somewhat familiar with the basic features of a project management suite, they may be surprised to learn of others and how they are used.

Again, you may have to create a “training for the training,” explaining how certain project management features are used. You can, as always, lean on the vendor for support.

Further, incorporating learning technology that enables templates, rapid prototyping and storyboarding, such as Synapse, will help as well.

training in a virtual capacity

6. Courses may have a reputation of “built too fast”

This final hurdle isn’t about convincing team members to embrace Agile. Rather, this is one about addressing fears that courses built with Agile methodologies—especially because they are known to be built rather quickly—are of lower quality and thus, won’t be as valuable.

While quality can vary regardless of which development methodology is utilized, this is yet another opportunity for L&D to inform learners about the process or fundamentals on which the course was built.

A small Did you know? section at the end of the course, or a mention in the About at the beginning should highlight that the course was built using Agile methodologies.

As Agile is quite popular in software engineering and project management, others in the organization might just have a newfound respect for the L&D team.

project management

Want to learn more about what Agile can do for your learning organization? Register for this upcoming free webinar: How Agile Learning Can Power Your Digital Transformation Strategy

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