"It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change!" - Charles Darwin

Monday, 18 March 2013

12 secrets of a successful Agile transformation – Part2

Following the blog post from last week, here is the continuation of the list of 12 tips for a successful transformation towards enterprise agility. We mentioned already the first 3:

  1. Why?
  2. The approach
  3. Training managers 
Let’s move on with 5 more:

  1. The pilot project
Since we’re talking about applying an empirical process, the starting point is to setup an experiment in terms of a pilot project. Scrum can help out with its framework to give some guidance and some practices which help understand the agile principles behind. A pilot project can provide objective information on the feasibility of rolling out Agile to all the organization. Craig Larman says that if an organization is not able to implement real Scrum with only one team, how can they succeed in scaling it in the whole enterprise? But be aware of choosing a proper pilot project. It needs to be important and critical enough so that people will consider it a serious try and a valuable success (it should be used to gain even more management support for the change), but not too critical to create a safe environment for possible failure. It should be end-to-end and therefore include all the stages that are needed to bring an idea into a product and it needs to be closely monitored and supported by senior management, ready to fix possible impediments.

  1. Scaling up
Leveraging on the feedback from your pilot project and acting on the findings, you can start scaling up incrementally. This will allow better control and will enable the organization to build internal capabilities to help the teams that start later.

If you don’t know what you’re doing, don’t do it on a large scaleTom Gilb
However beware not to be too slow, to avoid the organization finding them in the ford for too long and losing momentum, sense of urgency and a clear direction about the change to make.

  1. The Transition Team
Creating a successful Agile organization does not simply mean make a number of Scrum teams work: it means creating all the conditions around to enable those teams to succeed and get astonishing results. The Transition Team is an operative team, with the goal of helping and supporting the organization in implementing the Agile Transformation, by supporting teams, removing organizational impediments, training and coaching people, spreading the Agile values and Lean thinking. The team works as an agile team, driven by the so-called Transition Backlog populated top-down by the organizational transformation strategy and bottom-up by impediments from the team.

  1. Create the new roles
In order to scale up you need to build new skills and behaviors for people to fill the new roles of Scrum Master, Product Owner and Scrum Developer. This is best done by means of a mix of training, mentoring and coaching and is a typical item in the Transition backlog. Understanding that we’re talking about new roles, you cannot find in the existing organization, is a critical success factor. One of the worst (and yet easy and most common mistakes) is to create a mapping between existing and new roles, like System ArchitectàProduct Owner or Project ManageràScrum Master. They are totally different jobs and you need to realize this and prepare to help individuals who are willing to learn and challenge themselves to fill the gaps needed to move to the new roles.

  1. Cross-functional teams
Cross-functional teams who can deliver potentially shippable product increments at each iteration are a key element in a successful Agile enterprise. So one needed step is to change your organization, remove functional silos and have self-organized teams of 5-9 people with all needed competences working together permanently. And this might imply changes in the office logistics as well, to create the right environment to enable team collaboration.
The most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a development  team is face-to-face conversation6th Agile principle

It’s probably enough for today: any comment?

Let’s have a date for the next blog post to talk about the remaining secrets for a successful Agile transformation. 

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