It has been a while since Agile Transformation has initiated in software industry. Though very few organizations can claim that they are at the highest maturity level of Agile implementation, journey is initiated in most of the IT organizations. Now the question is, are business leaders or senior leadership getting benefits from Agile Transformation? where they should focus upon?
In this article I have touched upon few important points which are necessary for getting business benefits from Agile Transformation
Agile Transformation Goals or Business Objectives
Like any other Transformational initiative Agile transformation should be also driven by Business Objectives. Agile is not a destination but a journey! A continuous improvement journey to achieve your desired outcomes. It’s extremely important to have Business Objectives defined at organization level and then those should be effectively communicated and tracked at each level – Organization, Portfolio, Engagement. Role of senior leadership is critical in aligning everyone to common objectives. And, yes objectives should be SMART!
Leadership involvement is vital in Agile transformation. Their support in terms of budget and human resources is not enough. Leadership needs to be engaged in Transformation. They should lead it and design the critical steps. Agile transformation cannot be successful without cultural changes and everyone is not going to like or welcome these changes. Without Leadership engagement this cultural change will be impossible.
Leadership also need to demonstrate this change through their behavior. Changes like Decentralization of decision making, giving more autonomy to teams for taking decisions will help in creating momentum.
There is no point in talking about Agile transformation and then asking your teams to create detailed plan with all minute details for next one year so that you can approve it and teams will execute it!! Remember one has to be Agile to implement Agile.
In Agile we are talking about new roles, flat team structures, cross functional teams, collaborative working styles. In traditional organizations where the tendency is still towards overspecialization and heroism, team sport like Agile is not an easy game to play with!. Things like getting developers and testers working together in one team, moving towards ‘T’ and then ‘E’ shaped skills, creating learning organization (these are just few examples) require major cultural and mindset shift. And we all know that changing culture is difficult, lengthy and time consuming process. But at the same time it is important to reap the true business benefits from Agile transformation. Otherwise Agile implementation will remain at superficial level.
Scrum framework on its own does not talk about Technical practices. Over the years I have seen Agile teams (and management as well) ignoring this critical aspect. Practices like Test Driven Development, Behaviour Driven Development, Automated code review tools, Continuous Integration are as important as any of the scrum events. Again, these practices cannot be implemented overnight as it is also a cultural shift. It requires Leadership engagement and also SMART business objectives to motivate people.
Also, please remember: When you are implementing any Framework (Scrum/ Kanban/ SAFe), it is better to “Adopt first and then Adapt”. Don’t customize the framework for your organization on day one. Be willing to adopt first and then carefully choose places to adapt later. This will reduce rework, confusion and frustration.
There are few other factors which can influence Agile Transformation. But based on my experience you should carefully look at the above factors to get the maximum business value from your Agile Transformation.