Agile Thinking

Applied Agility Thoughts & Insights

Newton's Story

An apple, something we know in our everyday lives. We grow it, harvest it, we eat it – year in, year out. That is what an apple is all about - nothing more, nothing less.

Simple – it’s the same in business. We go along with what we know and believe to be tried and true.

That is until something happens!

A man watches an apple fall from a tree, and suddenly all is changed.

An idea is born - An idea that made everything he knew as a truth questionable.

This man’s observation of a simple natural action presented him and his world an opportunity to change all that had been thought truth.

In fact, once he observed that apple fall and understood what it had given to him, he knew the old ways had to change.

Should you observe an apple fall in your business; will you be ready to observe it, to pick it up and to benefit from all that it presents to you?

Let’s gather a bushel of apples together and see what the bushel can tell us collectively.

Practical Project Management for Agile Nonprofits
Practical Project Management for Agile Nonprofits cover

Non-profits are businesses with strong volunteer and board components, in which it is often more difficult to achieve results than in a for-profit business. Applied Agility believes in using the proven techniques of traditional project management, tailored with the streamlined sensibility of the agile management movement, to help non-profits optimize scarce resources, improve volunteer performance and retention as well as eliminate the chaos and improve the results of fund raising and other critical projects.

Purchase Practical Project Management for Agile Nonprofits by Karen R.J. White

Blog Categories
General Project Management | Resource Optimization | Volunteer Management | Non-Profit Challenges | Performance Measurement | Strategic Planning

Volunteering - Good for Your Health!

Wow! I know I enjoyed being paid in hugs for the volunteer work I perform. Now I learn that I might also be paid in my senior years, with a lower blood pressure!

A study recently published by Carnegie Mellon shows that older adults who volunteer for at least 200 hours per year decrease their risk of hypertension, or high blood pressure, by 40 percent.  And that 's a big decrease!  So, if you are worried about hypertension, get out there and volunteer!

You can find the study's press release at : //

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Non-Performing Volunteer

I had an interesting conversation with one of my nieces over the weekend. She is a relatively new event planner with a national non-profit based in DC and we were talking about the challenges of managing projects that are reliant on volunteers for completion.

We found ourselves wondering if this social model of philanthropy can continue with the ever increasing demands being placed on it. Should a more business-like approach be required? Should volunteers be asked to sign agreements, and what are the penalties if they don’t fulfill those agreements? In Kate’s situation, the failure of a volunteer to perform means she needs to alter her personal plans and step into it, or throw another volunteer “into the fire” at the last moment - something she is loath to do.

We didn’t come to any satisfactory conclusion. For many volunteers, extra-curricular commitments must take a backseat to employer demands when there is a conflict. Perhaps the non-profit should scrutinize the work they expect volunteers to perform, and if crucial to the success of the event, contract it out or assign it to staff; don’t rely on the volunteer. In other words, use the volunteers on the non-critical tasks.

What about it? How do you handle the situation of the non-performing volunteer? We would love to hear your thoughts.

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Communicating with Those Kids

I recently read an article in the NY Times about today's business culture and the invasion of the handheld devices into our typical social activities such as parties and dinners. The author was driving home the message that even when we are face-to-face, we prefer to use the handheld to share our experiences with the rest of our universe, not just the people in the room with us.

This trend is particularly prevalent in those entering the workforce and business communities. And we old-timers need to acknowledge they are indeed wired differently!

To be effective in engaging this next generation, we need to learn to communicate with them in a manner in which they will "hear" us.  We need to consider podcasts that can be played and listened to in short blurbs, not face-to-face presentations that are 60 to 90 minutes long. We need to embrace the use of YouTube for fundraising - creating a video showing how much FUN can be had while serving a social good.  W need to get up the courage to ask our grandchildren to teach us how to establish Facebook and Twitter presences and to help us keep them alive and fresh, and to translate our message into their language.  (I don't know about you, but saying "It's rockin' cool, dude" is just not natural for me.)

We can't rely on “old school” marketing of printed materials, they don't have the patience to read it.  Instead our message needs to be conveyed real-time to grab their attention. We can't just think just outside the box, but think outside the building!  We need to leverage multi-media in our communications - music, pictures, animation - we need to be comfortable using it all to get our message across - and to communicate repetitively via a host of vehicles.

And we need to be agile with that communications – we can't let materials get stale or become yesterday’s post – we need to be nimble and proactive, with our eyes on tomorrow, not yesterday. 

Anticipate the future and act today - my new mantra! 

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