What indicates radical Agile transformation?
a) All the organizations’ projects now using Agile.
b) The organization now follows most of the Agile practices.
c) None of the above.
If you have answered ‘C’, congratulations. “Radical Agile Transformation” indicates a larger change. A shift in the culture of the organization. A rewriting of its DNA. Using Agile in projects is a good step, but no guarantee that transformation has taken place. Agile Principles and Practices are only the means. They are not an end in themselves.
Ends may vary. One company may set a modest goal while another aims for a complete metamorphosis. Regardless of the goals, three broad things show a radical organization wide Agile transformation.
1. The sweet song of benefits
In most organizations, stakeholders get ambitious. Features requested keep growing and growing. Since Agile anyway promises to accommodate change, why not get the software to do a few more things?
Compare this to users who think about what the business will gain from any feature. When the true spirit of agile permeates the organization, the stakeholders passionately, eloquently, consistently praise the virtue business benefits over mere features. They realize that mere features, however fancy, however desired will have to give way to those that serve the purpose best.
2. Products that drive the organization forward
One of the things that encourages ‘benefits thinking’ is that the organization’s product development efforts are streamlined and linked to its strategy. The entire process from strategy to daily planning flows smoothly, each step informed and modified by the previous one.
3. Powerful and Flexible Organization
If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading.
There may be a million ways to achieve the organization’s strategy, a thousand portfolios that can facilitate this, and a hundred different products that can fit into any portfolio. Remember the cliche, change is the only thing that is constant.
“Start by understanding that change is happening at unprecedented rates, that new technologies can disrupt the best-laid plans, that competition is fierce. These days, laurels aren’t for resting on, they’re for leaping from. Complacency = Extinction” advises Meghan M. Biro writing about the New Rules of Leadership.
Organizations need to adapt to changing customer needs. A successful Agile transformation makes the Organization more powerful and flexible. It enables it to respond to change with the lowest possible un-recovered, sunk costs and less disruption.
Checklist or map?
Merely adhering to principles or practices is pointless if the organization fails to achieve the very goals that kick-started the efforts. Mechanical adherence may also lead teams to fall prey to the negatives effects of the Shrink Law of Agile instead using its positive side. Agile is not just a checklist to be followed, ticking off each item as you do it. It is a map. It should help you reach your destination as fast as you can.