What to consider for agile implementations: some insights and recommendations
Over the last couple of years of working with different companies implementing agile we have come to certain realisations around agile implementations that influences the way we approach implementing agile at organisations. We share some of the realisations with you here and under each of these realisations we will also highlight how we go about implementing agile. This will also assist you in deciding how to approach your agile transformation journey as well as what aspects to consider when adopting agile and how to approach that.
The way we suggest you approach an agile implementation
We take agile frameworks and methodologies as a guideline and we adjust the approach to suit the client’s environment. The reason for this is that agile methodologies and frameworks are built for very mature organisations and are a bit of a perfect world / theoretical depiction. It is obviously good to strive towards these perfect world scenarios and have that as long-term goals, but the matter of the fact is that you will not be able to achieve that during your first few years into an agile adoption.
Our approach focuses on getting the right things done at the right time!
Agile implementation realisations and agile implementation insights
Defining your agile implementation or agile transformation starting point
Agile is still a buzzword and due to the many bad attempts of getting this going in some organisations Agile now also have a bad name. All companies want to implement agile (or so they say). Agile is like Cloud in this way, a new buzz or trend, which means we need to consider implementing it too surely? Some of the most important questions to ask as you are standing at the starting point of this journey is:
- Do we have a true understanding of what it takes to implement agile;
- How much of agile is my company really ready for and is this even possible to consider at this stage?
- How long will it take us to be agile and will we even realistically ever reach that?
- Why do I want to implement agile?
- What am I hoping to achieve by implementing agile and do I have measurable steps to ensure that I am doing the right thing at the right time?
The right approach here is to evaluate how ready your organisation is to implement agile and what are the major stumbling blocks you have to overcome immediately or what changes you will have to make immediately to even start considering the journey of an agile implementation. You will thus require bold steps from the management and exec team when implementing agile during the first few months.
Your main motivation for considering agile should be to streamline your environment and to achieve a level of optimisation and improvement in delivery. This is what we focus on at Infoware Studios. This does not mean that you are an agile organisation once you have implemented the first phase of agile. So this leads to the next point…..
Defining your long-term agile implementation goals
Your organisation will be at a specific point in its lifecycle. You have a specific culture, specific problems and a specific way of working and managing your environment. In order to become agile, you will have to take some initial steps towards becoming an agile organisation. As you mature your agile adoption you will take the next step and so forth and so forth. So this is really a long journey and the decision to take this on should thus not be seen as a quick fix or the silver bullet. It does not help that halfway through you make decisions that counters your investment to adopt agile.
You will thus need a long-term commitment when deciding to implement agile. It is a commitment. Defining your agile implementation goals and mapping this to your organisation strategy is what we help with. We work out this roadmap with you. This roadmap could be a 3 year goal and plan. Then even after the 3 years you will continuously have to make more changes and improvements to stay on track.
Personal development as part of the journey of self-organisation
Most companies will never self-organise and this is a fact. The reality is that in order to truly self-organise each and every person in your organisation needs to take 100% responsibility for their work and how their work / role contributes to the bottom line. Most people do not even know how the company is performing financially. Each and every person also needs to invest effort into removing personal blockages, fears and shortfalls. Further, people’s skills play a mayor role in how successful you will be in self-organising.
So bearing this in mind, we believe in incorporating traditional project management disciplines within agile and a Scrum Master having strong project management skills. Although the team does not report to the Scrum Master necessarily, the Scrum Master is responsible for guaranteeing the success of the team and applying good project management principles and disciplines. This is also a key strength of a Product Owner.
Further to this, self-organisation requires a specific awareness in the individuals working at the organisation. This can only be achieved if a certain level of personal development is done. And this personal development is not on a skills level, but on a very personal level to increase this awareness.
We help here to take the key leadership team and other identified people in an organisation on a personal growth journey where they have to face their personal constraints and issues in order to be free from this influencing their success and the success of the organisation. We all bring into the organisation landscape our own personal issues and the ability of your people to operate effectively and efficiently will be influenced by these personal hardships. Leaving your personal issues at home… Not possible.
This forms part of our change management / transformation services.
Agile is a process
Most agile methodologies and frameworks focus heavily on process and then there are of course the “fluffy” softer values that we should aspire to. Implementing an agile process alone will definitely get you some improvements. Implementing only an agile process will not solve all your problems.
So implementing an agile process will not make you agile. You need to focus on so much more to get this to work.
We focus on all things that affect your organisation: culture, values, incentives, technical constraints and use agile as a way to manage your processes. You will often find that there are lots of other things that prohibits your ability to become agile.
We help you to identify all of them. What you decide to tackle is up to you.
Management in Agile
… And team structures to support this
Agile frameworks hardly specify anything around management. And why? As this is against the principle of self-organisation. The reality is that no organisation is self-organised and on your journey to achieve this goal you need to put the safety nets in place to guarantee your organisations profitability. Unless your organisation is 100% self-organised you will still need managers. In large organisations, due to the mere size of the organisation, certain management structures are still needed. So what is the job of management in agile? To manage inefficiencies and get people to take responsibility. If we had no inefficiencies in organisations, then only will we not need managers.
We assist you to align your organisational structure and team construction with agile and you will follow a long-term plan to achieve this.
Agile and change management and continuous improvement
We play the role of recognising the inefficiencies, highlighting it to you and coming up with a plan to overcome it. You will have to invest into a person that can play this role continuously in the organisation as this is the only way to not get complacent. Your process owners and product owners of course forms part of this team and should have this responsibility, but they also have to have the skills to do this: to spot problems and facilitate solutions and improvements to overcome this. In traditional organisations this could be part of the change management team.
Optimisation and delivery over agile
We value showing results with improved delivery over blindly following agile frameworks and methodologies and we have a unique approach to agile adoption in organisations. No one organisation is the same. Organisations might face the same problems but the mere fact that different people work at each organisation makes it impossible to take a cookie cutter approach to agile implementations.
As the hardest part to change is the organisational culture and dynamics, you need to be committed to changing your organisational culture if you are serious about implementing agile. If you are not prepared to do this, then do not attempt to implement agile as all you will be able to achieve is using a different process or way to manage things. Changing your culture will mean developing your people on a personal growth level. From CEO level down.