Going agile agilely

When doing an agility transformation the best tip is to use all the patterns and practices from agility, systems thinking and roadmapping to help you achieve a successful outcome. Make sure that before you start the transformation you are thinking about the end state, that allows you to generate a cohesive plan for the transformation with clear acceptance criteria and meaningful metrics for your feedback loops.

To help the concepts to be bedded down and become part of the organisation’s DNA try a phased approach for the transformation. This phased approach predicated on a top down adoption, as well as on the job implementation of practices at team level. The two transformations can happen in parallel.

The engagement starts with an “expose” phase where everyone is exposed to the agility concepts and ideas, for example  run a technology wide or building wide scavenger hunt focused on the 12 principles of agility to get people thinking about them and what they mean to the teams under transition. Or run a 12 week challenge where teams were tasked with collecting stamps to win a prize. the 12 week challenges are focused around the principles of agile. The goal of this phase is to de-emote the transformation, have people talking about it and getting the language and concepts moving through the organisation. This also allows any nay-sayers to have their say, myths to be debunked and conversations (instead of lectures) given.

Then move onto the “educate” phase where each team is given structured training following the 10/20/70 model (10% face to face classroom training, 20% self education – CBT/Elearning, 70% on the Job (OTJ) coaching and implementation). This educate phase is woven into each teams daily work week, and follows a program that drills down from strategic thinking and planning, through to team work, collaboration skills and techniques, effective and efficient work definition and approached, understanding quality and then implementation of quality work practices in the teams DNA via specific activities and ceremonies. This is concluded by a maturity assessment conducted by the teams themselves that allows them to identify any gaps that need addressing.

The concluding stage of the transformation is the “embrace” phase where teams simply continue to work with the new way of working without identifying it as the “new” way – it is simply just “what we do”. This phase means that the teams are now unconsciously adopting the habits and approaches for continuous improvement, self empowerment and a view toward innovation.

Doing a transformation following the principles of agile, allowing time for change, not expecting instant ROI, focusing on the long term, building an organisational transformation mindset instead of a team by team transformation.

The transformation is built, adjusted based on learning (via metrics and assessments and retrospectives) and aiming for continuous improvement as a mindset. The transformation approach does not assume perfection but aiming for a deeply sustainable model of change that is embedded in each individual. The aim is to enable teams and individuals to constantly learn and evolve.

These transitions use traditional tools in non-traditional ways,  don’t follow the prescribed methods if they don’t work for you,  critically examine “best practice” and don’t blindly follow it – empower teams to make informed choices rather than following ideas by rote. We want teams to work with focused intent – “start with the end in mind” and to understand the dynamics of delivery so that they can make informed decisions about what to do when they hit any problem.

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