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

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

12 secrets of a successful Agile transformation – Part3

As promised here I am to complete the list of 12 tips for a successful transformation towards enterprise agility. In the previous posts (from last week and two weeks ago) we talked about the first 8:

  1. Why?
  2. The approach
  3. Training managers
  4. The pilot project
  5. Scaling up
  6. The Transition Team
  7. Create the new roles
  8. Cross-functional teams 
Let’s complete the list with the last 4 then:

  1. Technical Excellence
Scrum is not enough! Scrum is a very powerful way of organizing work, but doesn’t say anything about how to practically do the work. Instead the biggest challenge for a waterfall organization is delivering a potentially shippable product increment in a short iteration. This implies finding new ways of doing things, applying state-of-the-art technical practices and build teams of professional developers, who are able to find the right solutions to always new problems.
Continuous attention to technical excellence and good design enhances agility. 9th Agile principle
  1. Cultural change
It’s not about doing Agile: it’s about being Agile, by embracing Agile values and principles. This means primarily focusing on value, on what really makes your customer happy and not your boss or the boss of your boss. Prioritize your work based on the contribution it gives to the people actually paying for the product and not because “we have always done like that” or in order to make people busy: busyness is not a good business.
Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable software. 1st Agile principle

Then let self-organizing teams to pull the work they are able to do. This is very much connected to why Agile. We’re in an industry with such high levels of complexity and uncertainty that we can no longer assume we can know or control everything goes on. So there’s no other way than building empowered individuals and teams who are able to take decisions autonomously using their best capabilities and judgments in the moment, respond to changes fast and reach a defined goal in the most efficient way.
The best architectures, requirements, and designs emerge from self-organizing teams. 11th Agile principle

  1. Make your transformation self-sustainable
·         Build internal coaches who can teach and coach the new roles, support people to work as performing teams and be permanent change agents: if you’re really Agile, you’re never Agile enough.
·         Nurture Communities of Practice to give people a place where to meet colleagues who share the same passion or interest and learn from each other.
·         Adjust your HR processes (Performance management, career models, recruitment, reward and compensation) to support your transformation, instead of giving contradictory messages, and enable a collaborative environment of high level professionals.

  1. Use an empirical approach
An Agile transformation is not a Change Program, you can plan upfront, set goals and KPIs, deploy it to the organization and track the progress. It simply doesn’t work like this. As you might have understood introducing Agile is complex: you’ve never done it before and you do not know exactly where you’re going, how can you define the steps to get there?
The answer is then to use Agile instead: yes, use Agile to introduce Agile.
So have a transition strategy and a transition backlog, but use an empirical, iterative and incremental approach.
Prototype and refine, make assumptions and validate them through baby steps, use fast feedback loops: it’s all about Continuous Improvement.
Of course using an empirical process control implies that you can observe your system to be able to inspect and adapt. Therefore enabling full transparency is a key success factor: make relevant information visible as much as possible from everybody to everybody to be able to really understand what’s going on and act accordingly.
Otherwise your transformation will degenerate into chaos.

So here are my summary on what it takes to have a successful Agile transformation.
Happy enough, my dear cheeky brother?

BTW, Happy Easter to everybody!

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