Scaling agility

Ive just been to Agile 2016 in Atlanta Georgia and have learned so very much! I have spoken to some incredible people, some famous authors, most not famous but incredible thinkers!

Scaling was a topic we were all focused on, and it directly relates to my ongoing theme around Transforming Organisations is different to transforming teams. Agility at scale is all about building common, transferable, shareable collateral. However I have figured out that the scaling is NOT about the patterns and practices of the teams, our usual collateral. The scaling has to be about the scaling of the Values and Principles. Traditionally teams focus on scaling the practices – but I think this is where it all get hard and complicated.

What are values?

To me a value is something that defines you, something that is part of who you are and how you behave, and it is built into the most fundamental expressions of what you do.

So to me the basic values of agility are:

  1. Be a good person – most people are fundamentally good and aligned toward success. Embrace who you are when you are alone, and share that with the people you work with. Create a safe and supportive environment.
  2. Work together – we are a tribal organism, we work best when we are together in a group. Leverage the wisdom of the group and the diversity of other peoples thinking.
  3. Solve problems – find the issues that you and your team have and working to solve them, focusing on the most important problems first.
  4. Make decisions¬† – providing clear direction and action by making decisions that allow both progress and learning. Don’t avoid the choices, make them so that they can be validated quickly.
  5. Do the right work – understanding what outcomes are required and delivering them and only them. Know that what you want to do may not be what is needed to be done. Focus on what is needed.
  6. At the right time – understand the time constraints that exist for everything and making sure that what ever you are doing is appropriate and timely – not too early nor not too late.
  7. In the right way – understand what needs to be “done” to generate the appropriate outcome, not too much or too little – just the right amount.

Values are supported by your principles. Principles are the rules that you live by. We all have principles that we apply to how we conduct ourselves at home, at work, in public and in private. Our decision making pivot points, “do I do x or y?” is defined by our principles. For me scaling agility is well and truly covered by the Agile Principles. I think there should be far more focus on these principles than there is.

Practices are the events and activities that you use to support your values and principles. There will be more on these practices later.

So, to me, scaling agility is about bedding these values into the DNA of an organisation. Empowering individuals and teams to understand and define their methods, techniques and approaches to these values.


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