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3 Phases of Agile Maturity: Where Do You Fall?

Valerie Silverthorne has interviewed Jeffrey Hammond, a VP at Forrester Research, for TechTarget. In this interview, they discuss the current state of agile in organizations and the upcoming Agile 2017 conference. Among other things, Hammond believes efforts to scale agile are being stymied by the wrong attitudes. He identifies three phrases of agile maturity, and only one of them can create a competitive advantage.

Confused Perspectives

Hammond recounts an instance of a customer who bemoaned the way his business was releasing mobile apps, but upon discussion, it sounded to Hammond like the customer’s business actually had everything in order. The only problem was that the customer’s IT department told the customer that he was not doing agile “the right way.” Who is right in this instance? It very likely is not the IT department, and these are the sorts of troubles that arise in scaling.

Hammond continues to describe what he interprets as three phases of agile maturity:

The first phase I see are shops which do Agile by process. They are all about the process of Scrum or XP or SAFe. These companies are missing the forest for the trees. … It was supposed to enable developers to get results by empowering them…

[The second phase] are shops that are Agile by practice. These companies more fully conform to the Agile idea. They’re doing Kanban, minimum viable product and design thinking and they’re borrowing tactics from different places. If it works they adopt them…

The third level of Agile is the companies that do it in spirit. They’re not worried what to call it. Instead they’re focused on the culture and building cross-functional teams where developers sit with digital people and business people and they hire top talent.

Everyone should want to get to the third level. At this level, work culture and social culture start to blend together. The question is never, “Are we agile?” but rather, “Are we solving our problem?” Hammond finds that third-level organizations may even only realize that they are behaving in an agile manner after the fact—not that it matters.

Experimentation is the name of the game. Getting analytics up and running right now is critical, but keeping an eye out for other emerging opportunities like serverless architecture must occur too. And whatever you do, keep people and problem-solving ahead of process. Process should always exist in the service of something more important.

You can view the interview here:

About John Friscia

John Friscia is the Editor of Computer Aid's Accelerating IT Success. He began working for Computer Aid, Inc. in 2013 and continues to provide graphic design support for AITS. He graduated summa cum laude from Shippensburg University with a B.A. in English.

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