Since our launch in 2017, the team at Twill have embraced an agile methodology – which is a process of working that encourages collaboration, adaptation, and efficiency. It is formed around key roles and events within teams and the company as a whole. These include daily Huddles, Sprints, Scrum Masters and more. If you’re not familiar, take a look at this handy guide on the terminology.
This year we wanted to see how we could improve our agile mindset, so we introduced Minke de Haan, an Agile Coach, to the team. In this week’s blog we spoke to her about how she’s been working with Twill, her experiences and why an agile culture could be beneficial for other businesses:
What have you been working on with the team at Twill in your time here?
“I began my work at Twill with a vision workshop – this was to help me understand what they wanted to do, where they wanted to go with Twill and why. In my opinion, having this understanding of the wider vision and strategy is crucial to ensuring everyone is aligned from the beginning.
“After this, I spent a few weeks observing and understanding the Product team and Tech team – where I spent my time discovering ways they could improve their agile processes. In this time I started to see how they could work better together and better utilise agile processes to get over obstacles and achieve their goals.
“I believe that it’s important not to just optimise little things here and there – but to really prepare, understand and then implement. So all of this preparation culminated in two workshops that laid out what agile could do for these teams alongside the vision of leadership over the next 6, 9, 12 months. Then it was about finding out what the teams needed from each other if they were to further implement an agile methodology – and what did they need from agile.”
Why is an agile culture important to a company like Twill?
“For a start-up like Twill you need to deliver fast, while maintaining great quality, and as a start-up, you feel a desire to prove yourself to the world and prove that you’re here to stay. You want to get to a point where you not only have a strong platform, as Twill does, but you are an established company that delivers new products or features at the right time and in the right way.
“On top of this, Twill thrives on delivering added value for their customers, that’s the end goal for them and many companies. You might have a great idea, with great market research, but if you as a company aren’t able to deliver it to the market and get real feedback from customers – then it stays an idea.
You say you’ve been working with the leadership team at Twill – how important is leadership to an agile company?
“Leadership is very important. When you look at a traditional company, the leadership tends to demand results and then micro-manage. In an agile company, leadership understands that they can coach people and support them by helping move barriers or obstacles that might be stopping growth or progress.
“What’s good about the leadership team at Twill is that they are passionate and ambitious, which is rare in many companies. For example, in a roadmap session where in most companies you will get 15 – 20 ideas out of a workshop, at Twill you get 150 – 170! So then it becomes a case of structuring this ambition. We developed a roadmap for the next 12 months – with a focus on the first three months and then the next 6 months. The later 9 – 12 month periods were more vague because there a lot of potential things that can change in that time – so you want to be able to adapt to those changes.
“At Twill the leadership team is also working in two-week sprints. So when every sprint finishes they look back and review – then plan ahead for the next sprint. This allows the leadership team to, alongside their normal job roles, achieve some goals that are really important for Twill++ (Agile as the heartbeat of the organisation).
What are the tangible benefits of an agile culture?
“I think there are two strong tangible benefits of an agile culture. Firstly, it allows everyone to do what they do best. When everyone is aligned, working together and helping each other achieve their goals and remove obstacles, nobody is having to work out problems on their own – which can not only be difficult but also time-consuming.
“Secondly, I’d say a great benefit is transparency. A strong roadmap shows where we are and when we need to deliver things. This means, for example, that we now have more conversations with stakeholders and teams about what and how we need to deliver value to our customers.”
Finally, what would be your reflections on working with Twill so far – and what advice would you give to other companies thinking of embracing agile?
“From the moment I arrived at Twill it’s been a great journey – the teams here are really willing to change, learn and grow. For me that made the transitions we needed to make, so much easier – because everyone was open to change, even when there were obstacles.
“For me, it is important with embracing Agile that we are all in this together or we don’t do it at all. I really feel and see at Twill that we are all in this together – there is no hierarchy.
“To other companies looking at going agile, I’d reiterate some of the things I’ve said here – prepare, understand and then implement. There’s no one-day, one-job fix – it is a process and everyone has to be involved and aligned in that process for it to really work and be sustainable.”