How to use agile principles to deliver complex work

A photo of Helen Radia, Head of Individual Supporters at Crisis
A photo of Helen Radia, Head of Individual Supporters at Crisis

How to use agile principles to deliver complex work

Crisis' story

Helen Radia, Head of Individual Supporters at Crisis needed to bring together all the charity’s mass awareness work for their 2022 Christmas campaign. It was a complex challenge involving separate teams, goals, budgets and people who were also working on tonnes of other things. By using an agile approach Helen was able to streamline propositions and increase the efficiency of the mass awareness campaign. 

With our support, Helen:

  • Took a ‘Host’ approach to leadership.
  • Created consensus around a tight set of priorities.
  • Simplified and brought together all mass awareness propositions.
  • Implemented tailored ways of working based on agile principles.

Here's how Crisis did it

Start by looking back

Helen says: “We had set some goals for the 2021 Christmas Mass Awareness which we hadn’t met. Trustees challenged us to achieve them this year. Tilt supported me to hold a retrospective on Christmas 2021 with key stakeholders. We reflected on why 2021 hadn’t worked. I used this feedback to identify with Tilt the key reasons things hadn’t worked and responded to these real challenges.”

Create value for everyone

“I then co-created objectives and measures of success with stakeholders. We set objectives for the work that benefitted all parties. It was vital that all teams could see how this work would be valuable to them so they would commit the time and people required for us to succeed.”

A small, cross-functional team

Helen says: “I formed a small, core team of people who each owned an area of mass awareness and I took a host leadership style: rather than telling and delegating I coached, asked questions and held space for the team to discuss, collaborate and make decisions, thus increasing responsibility, momentum & connection.”

Autonomous accountability

We met regularly in weekly stand ups to share progress, support each other to unblock blockages – and ensure alignment. Then each representative used their own expertise to develop and deliver a plan. For example, the Marketing team wrote a brief to an agency asking for an owned and earned strategy for October – December. The Corporate team put together a sponsorship pack to attract corporate partners)”.

By working differently, we have achieved our 3 lead indicators of success (none of which were achieved last year):

  • A corporate partner this audience segment cares about
  • An earned and owned strategy focussing on this audience segment
  • An organisational research piece that aligns with the Christmas campaign

We’re also embedding these successful ways of working into our organisational process – with quarterly strategic reviews where we review, learn collectively and adapt.  I’m really pleased!

A photo of Helen Radia, Head of Individual Supporters at Crisis
Helen Radia
Head of Individual Supporters at Crisis

Helen's advice

🚫 “You DON’T need tech to be agile”

“You DO need to build responsibility, accountability and momentum from the beginning. This needs true co-creation of goals – not just lip service. You need to really understand what value other users could get from the work and ensure it meets this value. This requires having honest conversations and collaborating on challenges and opportunities.”

🚫 “You DON’T need an existing process to get started. Build one once you have the right people engaged and adapt it based on key challenges/learnings/questions.”

✅ “You DO need to be ready to feel uncomfortable. I didn’t always feel like I was being strategic because I didn’t have a long-term plan in mind, this is a key discomfort of working in an agile way”.