Many organisation are embarking on an “Agile Transformation” nowadays. Given the necessarily co-operative and collaborative nature of bringing valuable software products to market, an “Agile Transformation” only makes sense if it is ultimately about transforming your whole business to be more agile (i.e. being focused on early and often customer value and collaboration, quicker to market, more responsive to changing circumstances, etc.).
Why? Because if it is about just one team, group of teams or department (even I.T.), it is a fool’s errand (because, in theory of constraints parlance, it is a local optimisation). No single team changing the way they work and think can improve the manner in which the organisation delivers value to customers, nor create any sustainable business benefits from doing so. Even if such a team is fully cross-functional and has complete autonomy from both a capability and prioritisation/scheduling point of view to continuously deliver value to their customers, the mechanics and culture of the organisation around them will need to evolve to one which supports such a team and delivery model. Achieving this is no mean feat.
For that reason, an Agile Transformation is often a huge, costly undertaking, which might take years to truly succeed in any tangible way, if ever. It is thus worth considering — do you want an Agile Transformation, or do you want a daily focus on the things agile is about? If it’s the latter, with a will and a way, you can start today!
Here are 8 simple ways you can “go agile”, today:
You can do all these things without changing anything about your current structure or process, and without a formal “Agile Transformation”.
You see folks, becoming agile isn’t about implementing “Agile” or any particular practice/process/framework. It’s about applying a thinking frame to your daily activities, and influencing from where you are. If you wait for others to do this, or for the particular phase of the Agile Transformation where that behaviour change is expected (if indeed that phase exists), it likely won’t happen, or at least not in the emergent, habit-forming manner which tends to stick.
Are you a business leader? Well, lucky number 8 is for you:
8. Consider doing 1–7 before you embark on an Agile transformation
If you want your teams “doing Agile”, the accountability you are putting on them is about process, practices and ceremonies.
If you want your teams doing the things I’ve listed above, you need to start living and breathing these behaviours yourself, consistently sending out the right messages, and putting accountability on teams (not just software teams — also marketing, sales, management, operations, etc.) for outcomes, not practices.
Ask questions of your teams like:
“What did your team do this month to create value sooner for our customers?”
“Here’s what I did!”
That second bit is very important. You want to create an environment of “we/us”, all pointing toward a common vision, all equally accountable in our daily actions to get there.
Also, note the difference between “create value sooner” and “get your work done sooner” — if you don’t understand that difference, PLEASE don’t embark on an Agile Transformation until you do understand it, and believe the former is the right way to go.
Thanks for reading! If you are looking for help with your software or product delivery, I provide agile coaching, public training (both theory and practical) up to executive management level, and more. As well as public events, I can also run training internally in your organisation for a massively reduced cost, so please ✍ get in touch.