Agile allows the delivery of better and faster results, reducing risk
Agile is a mindset, it is a set of beliefs and principles, a way of thinking that helps teams work together. One of the most popular ways of implementing Agile principles is through the Scrum framework.
Much like a rugby team training for the big game, Scrum includes practices and methodologies that encourage teams to learn through experiences, self-organize while working on a problem or solution, and reflect on their successes and failures to continuously improve.
We sat down with Maria Cobano-Conde, Content Development Manager at The Stationery Office, to talk about her role, and how qualifications such as the Agile Scrum foundation could be a great stepping stone for business and thought leaders to develop their careers further.
- What is Agile?
It is a method, specific to project management and IT service development, by which processes are broken down into small increments. This allows teams to deliver work more often and take feedback onboard regularly, getting improved results by adapting requirements and plans as needed.
- How did you become a Content Development Manager?
After working as a writer and translator in the publishing industry for a few years, I wished to step up in my career and decided to become a commissioning editor. As I manage content across different formats (print, digital), my skill set suited the Content Development Manager role well.
- What aspects of the job to you most enjoy?
I love learning about new processes and ways of working and talk to the experts about it. To have the chance to channel their knowledge to the public, and shape the industry while doing so, is a privilege to me. We are working on new digital formats at the moment, which is very exciting.
- Describe a typical day
I respond to my emails first this in the morning and read the industry news from trusted sources to keep connected with what happens out there. Following that, I work through my to-do list, starting with the heavier tasks first. My morning usually includes meetings with my team for reviews and to share feedback. We are always open to new ideas on how to develop a project and find solutions together. After my lunch break, I work on lighter tasks and carry out editorial work too, which I really enjoy. This sets me up in a positive mood to end my working day.
It is important to invest in physical and emotional wellbeing at the workplace, so I exercise at the gym near our office on my lunch breaks and take shorter breaks to talk to my colleagues about our projects, office and non-work-related topics too. This builds trust and good relations between us, which is essential to our wellbeing and the health of our activity too.
“I favour Agile on my daily work because it allows me to deliver results better and faster, reducing risk. It also builds better communication within our teams, which is essential. Agile workspace looks like an effective environment in which ideas and feedback flow, allowing to develop projects more easily. Teams collaborate and are supportive of each other, which ultimately transforms the business.”
- Can you discuss any specific Agile techniques that you apply to your work and the benefits of these?
I do regular stand-ups with my team, together with reviews and re-planning. This helps us to keep track of our progress and avoid silos, which is very useful if someone in our team needs support or if we need to re-think our strategy. It very beneficial because, in this way, we can progress faster an in the right direction, avoiding a great deal of delays and backlashes.
- Why do you favour an Agile way of working rather than the traditional waterfall method?
I think waterfall is needed in some places, depending on particular situations in projects. To me, it is useful when setting up an editorial project as our controls are very strict and we go through many different revision and approval processes at subsequent stages. But I favour Agile on my daily work because it allows me to deliver results better and faster, reducing risk. It also builds better communication within our teams, which is essential.
- What does an Agile workspace look like?
It looks like an effective environment in which ideas and feedback flow, allowing to develop projects more easily. Teams collaborate and are supportive of each other, which ultimately transforms the business.
- Any career tips?
To anyone in the publishing industry, I will always recommend continuing professional development. It is important to keep your skill set up to date not just to face the upcoming challenges you might encounter in your role, but to be prepared to innovate too. By upgrading and finding new skills, you might reach new areas within your role and find new passions, which will only enrich your projects and your experience at the workplace.
I would say that keeping a good physical and emotional health by eating nutritious food at work and exercising during your workday is essential, as much as keeping positive and enriching relations with colleagues.
- What do you consider to be the value of gaining an understanding of Agile and Scrum practices with a foundation qualification?
There is great value in it. Not just for professionals working within that domain, but to anyone with an interest in transforming and improving the way they and their teams work. And for business and thought leaders, Agile and Scrum foundation qualifications could be a great stepping stone to develop their careers further.
About Maria Cobano-Conde
Maria Cobano-Conde is an experienced writer, translator and commissioning editor with a passion for engaging and informative content. Working both in Spanish and English, Maria has managed content for global publications in America and Europe. She is the Content Development Manager at The Stationery Office, the largest UK publisher by volume, where she curates Project Portfolio Management and IT Service Management educational content.
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