Agile has been a bit of a Buzzword for some time. Across the development industry, you’ll hear talk of Agile and Digital transformations, but what does it really all mean?

 

It starts with a change.

The journey to becoming an Agile organisation is not easy, however, the core fundamental is a mindset shift. Switching from old to new habits is the hardest part of any change.

Successful transformations require the full engagement of people and the understanding that the change will bring them something good, some added value. If they can’t see that added value, they will naturally refuse the change, deciding the As Is (the current state) is safer as it is ultimately their comfort zone.

It is not easy to get out of a comfort zone, but when it comes to the Agile way of working, it is the first step toward continuous improvement, one of the benefits of Agile.

 

What does success look like?

There are several success factors without which the change in the organisation can be difficult to cement. 53% of Agile Transformations fail according to Jeff Sutherland co-creator of Scrum methodology, one of the most popular Agile Ways of Working.

What is needed? What will increase the probability of successful long-term organisational transformation?

I have already mentioned the mindset shift toward wanting to continuously improve ourselves, our organisation culture, our way of working, and our processes but it requires effort and time.

A critical factor from my perspective is to also have someone who is passionate about that change. They will become the driving force in the organisation, an early adopter whom others will look to, be inspired by, and will follow, as they lead by example.

 

You may ask – why it is so important.

When I have been driving Agile transformation, checking in on different teams, auditing their state of Agility, and then building alongside the team an implementation plan, it was time boxed. The best results and long-term effects have been seen in teams who have owned and drive that change after the period of transformation with me (as an external resource) supporting the team in building and executing recommendations.

When the transformation started in teams where there was lack of ownership or in teams which  was pushed by managers for change or the team had convinced themselves they know better or after a quick assessment don’t see the value and there was no one inside the team who could be empowered or had a natural leading approach, the changes started but they did not progress well and after the agreed time box for supporting them, the old behaviours always tended to come back. The lack of supervision and lack of ownership for the change is almost always one of the critical degradation factors.

If you really want to change the current way of working into Agile, you need to have that motivation in the team to inspire others in their near and far surroundings.

 

Don’t assume things will take care of themselves.

It is also important to regularly inspect what the team have managed to do, there is no improvement, no adoption if we’re not constantly looking at our learnings. This is a function of empiricism, which Scrum is based on. Fundamentally, empiricism is to learn and adjust based on what we know from the past and what we have already learned.

Good implementation of Agile should be built on those pillars, where we have these regular cycles and where we can have a moment of time where we can stop, reflect on what we have learned, where we should go, how we could improve our path, define what works best for our team and our organisation and based on that, create a list detailing the most important actions to be taken at that moment of reflection.

 

Final Thoughts

In this article, I have touched on one of the most well-known and implemented frameworks for organisations: SCRUM. It is worth keeping in mind that it is just one of the ways of working which can serve this purpose. There are many others. Very often Kanban can be a better fit for those in an organisation providing services where priorities are changing frequently.

Sometimes organisations need to scale up the Agile Way of Working – the golden rule of scaling is that if you don’t really need to do it, don’t. With scaling the complexity grows and the problems become even more complex.

When deciding to scale up, one of the most important things to do is to keep the same “Takt” of work for all teams, so they have the same moment in time to finish their cycle of work, so they can combine and merge results of their work where there are dependencies, so they can demonstrate and verify if the value they brought at the end of the cycle is that what was expected and if the Product Owner decides if the potentially shippable product and its value is ready to be utilised and provide it for the end users.

If you are inspired and feel that your organisation is one step ahead in starting that change, but you are struggling with how to do it, you feel that you would like to be guided by someone who has already done it and is experienced in it, reach out to us. We are always happy to talk about how we can help you and find the best for your organisation to take that big step toward agility.