Within the past several years, NPR has shifted a lot of their methodologies to evolve alongside the quickly changing media scene. It has become paramount to make efforts to be more effective while saving both time and money. Included in the many changes was an adjustment to their programming structure. The new paradigm that they embraced for development is called Agile Programming.
What is Agile Programming?
When people first hear Agile Programming, often what comes to mind is an end to meetings and structured processes, and in turn, embracing informality and disorganization. While there is some truth in this, agile programming is much more nuanced.
Agile Programming was first developed in the tech world as a response to the need to be more efficient and effective. Basically, this methodology divides development work into small steps that decrease the volume of initial preparation and design. Rather than trying to produce the fullest expression of a concept from the start, agile programming values the production of a skeletal rendition of the product and then getting it to the potential customer/user as quickly as possible so as to begin collecting data on how it can be improved upon. After feedback is received, the concept or product is reworked in another efficient sprint and then tested again by the intended user. This methodology reduces the total risk and permits the concept or product to adjust to necessary adaptations rapidly. Each version might not entirely merit a consumer release, but the purpose is to have an accessible product, with few problems, at the culmination of each reinterpretation. Each rendition will be improved upon, with updated features. It is important to continually adapt to the feedback being flexible to the issues that present themselves.
Values of Agile Programming
- Individuals and interactions over procedures and tools:
- Procedures and tools are essential, but it is more critical to have a capable crew working jointly successfully.
- Functional product over complete documentation:
- Great documentation is beneficial in aiding individuals to comprehend how the product is made and in what way it should be utilized, but the chief topic of progress is to create the product, not to document it.
- User relationship over contract discussion:
- A contract is a significant factor, but it is not a replacement for operating alongside the intended user to find what is necessary for them.
- Reacting to adjustments over enforcing a rigid structure:
- A structured strategy is beneficial but it should allow for adjustments to be made, keeping the users’ main concerns at the center, and ensuring there is complete comprehension of any issue and resolution.
Why Agile Programming Works for NPR
Usually, the development of new NPR programs has required plenty of initial investments of time and money to design a program and to get it ready for release. New programs used to be launched gradually, often spanning months or years; with great expenses, sometimes involving upwards of millions of dollars, and progress was sluggish.
NPR pivoted to agile programming to advance shows more aligned with what their listeners were craving in a much smaller duration of time, and involving a lesser financial impact. This still means an unexpectedly thorough, meticulous approach to content development.
After the first round of development implementing Agile Programming, NPR saw great results. This phase culminated in the creation of popular series including the Ted Radio Hour, How to do Everything, and Ask Me Another. It has been assessed that the Agile Programming method allowed for these shows to be designed for one-third of the standard expense.
Agile has been greatly beneficial in constructing an extremely productive and inventive work atmosphere for NPR.