Agile Organization

5 Lessons Learned from Agile Transformations

Steve Elliott, CEO of AgileCraft, believes that most companies have gotten started with agile these days—but that many companies are having a hard time not relapsing into waterfall. Considering that it can take upward of a few years for the organization to become truly agile, Elliott could be right. In an article at SD Times, he shares five lessons he has learned from being involved in myriad agile transformations:

  1. Without executive sponsorship, agile cannot succeed.
  2. Set realistic expectations.
  3. Broadcast wins along the way.
  4. Don’t spook middle management.
  5. Make it safe to fail.

Developing Perspective

Agile is too big a change to happen without executive sponsorship. It just will not happen. So Elliott instead recommends dedicating your energy to selling management on the shift first. Still, selling it might not be easy, since Elliott says it can take upward of five years to make a full agile transition in large businesses. But compared to a company just going out of business since it refused to keep up with the competition—five years is a reasonable number.

Once agile has begun in a business, it is important to be vocal about the little wins that accumulate. These wins are what keep motivation high and provide evidence that agile works. They are the grips in the rock that let you keep climbing toward agile victory. You will need this positivity, especially when dealing with current middle management. They are likely to believe that agile will put them out of a job, but that is not true; agile will just relocate them into other positions, perhaps as program managers or working with DevOps.

Lastly, about making it safe to fail in business, Elliott writes this:

Most business cultures condemn or punish ‘failures’ and discourage people from taking risks. Experimentation is always a risk and integral to Agile culture. Your transformation needs a game plan to make failure ok.

There’s a happy medium between risk tolerance and recklessness. Facebook’s mantra used to be, “Move fast and break things.” In 2014, Zuckerberg changed it to “Move fast with stable infrastructure” because too much speed led to bugs, and bugs slowed development.

The new mantra is lame, as Zuckerberg admits, but it makes sense. What you can do is design a program that builds your own rituals around risk matching your specific organizational needs.

You can view the original article here:

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