In this Q&A podcast, I speak with Megan Torrance, who is facilitating ATD’s Agile Project Management Virtual Event Friday, November 13, 2015. Torrance is the chief energy officer of TorranceLearning, a custom e-learning design and development firm based outside Ann Arbor, Michigan. With more than two decades of instructional design, consulting, and project management experience, Megan developed the LLAMA approach to Agile Project Management specifically for instructional design projects.
Torrance is quick to clarify that agile is not to be confused with flexibility. Instead, agile is structured format that “helps harness the constant pace of change” in a way that is not disruptive. She notes that L&D can take its cue from the software development world, which has adopted agile and uses it to develop iteratively. They keep an open line of communication with clients who feed in changes, and then the developers prioritize those changes accordingly. She adds that it’s not about getting sign-off, but about how a team can absorb change as it happens.
Although the principles of agile can be applied to any project in any industry, Torrance has honed some best practices specific to instructional design that can help L&D professionals deliver their solutions on time and on budget. For instance, she explains that agile is as much a mindset as it is a set of tools and practices. Consequently, agile project management cannot occur in a vacuum. The entire team has to be on board, including subject matter experts, project sponsors, and even external contact support or vendors. Everyone doesn’t have to be agile experts, she says, but they do need to understand the basic principles.
Torrance also stresses the importance of a “regular retrospective look at how the team is performing.” The team should take a deep dive into how they are working together. She adds that her own team meets every two weeks to review what’s working and what needs more attention.