How Agile will advance communication

Scrum is suddenly a “thing” in communication. And rightly so. Agile techniques such as Scrum give communication the speed and agility that is so badly needed. In addition, it ensures that the right people are involved in communication. Moreover, it offers communication professionals tools to keep a grip on the development of communication and the use of resources within the field of internal stakeholders.


With the Agile method, you work in so-called ‘sprints’ that last two to four weeks. During a sprint, you only do what is needed right at that moment, which directly contributes to the result in the end. You will follow the priorities that you and your team have created after you discussed all the goals with the client.  In addition, the users of the communication and internal stakeholders are involved in the development process, so you won’t have any adjustment issues afterward. All coordination of the project is done “on the fly”. Because of the focus, teamwork, and the direct feedback you will be able to move forward quickly without losing any quality.


At the beginning of each sprint, you determine what is the most important thing to do right now. Only after all priorities are clear, you will start working. This way, it will always just take a maximum of four weeks before you can actively process an important change of the outside world into your communications. This is very essential in this dynamic world. Pay attention though: This does not count for a crisis. A crisis needs immediate attention, of course.  It’s very difficult to scrum a crisis because you don’t have any realistic or measurable goals beforehand.


Because you involve the users in the process, and if necessary other organizational disciplines as well, you automatically gain support for the result during its development. That’s worth a million on its own. And that is even more so in environments in which it is somewhat reproachfully stated that the communication department is a  so-called black box.

Keeping charge

In the playing field of internal stakeholders, it can be difficult to keep a grip on the content of the communication and the process. With Agile techniques, you have powerful tools to give everyone’s input a place in the process, while you keep the control, and while the team remains responsible for its content and quality. This honors the professional pride and drive of communication professionals while also adopting an actively responsive attitude towards the organization and the outside world.

Reflective Communication Scrum (RCS)

Retired professor Betteke van Ruler “translated” the Agile method Scrum into the communication field. In her opinion, a traditional communication plan had seen its days and she wanted to offer a realistic alternative. She found this with Scrum: a method that helps to structure tasks, organize thoughts, determine the direction, and keep pure resource thinking at bay, to account for money and manpower. Moreover, a method that is extremely suitable for the unpredictable and dynamic nature of the communication profession.

Scrum with a twist

Betteke told us that she has adapted the Scrum method for the communication profession. For example, she found the process to be too internally oriented. That is why she started the process from a communication-based point of view. She has also built in more verification and validation moments with the client. Scrum’s IT-focused jargon has purposefully replaced them with more mundane terms. Some typical Scrum activities such as ‘poker’ – to determine the complexity of activities – have been omitted. On the other hand, many typical communication matters have also been added: a useful evaluation model, for example. Also handy, she clearly indicates which forms of accountability are located and where they’re located within the process.


Whether you start with the RCS, use Agile project management, or use the classic Scrum method; it will definitely advance communication. It causes better movement and flexibility. And not to forget: connection. It ensures a real fit between the communication department, the organization, and the outside world. The only condition is that you use and apply it in a disciplined manner. Agile methods are easy to understand but extremely difficult to apply.

This blog was previously published on, on November 14, 2013

Photocredits: Alba Campus (CC).