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8 Questions to Explore Before Embarking on an Agile Transformation

Considering bringing Agile into your organization? Great! You’re about to start out on a challenging but rewarding journey, and if you stick with it, you’ll realize some of those highly-touted benefits like flexibility to adapt to market changes more quickly, better visibility and alignment between the business and IT, and higher team morale. But this […]

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August 13, 2019

Considering bringing Agile into your organization? Great! You’re about to start out on a challenging but rewarding journey, and if you stick with it, you’ll realize some of those highly-touted benefits like flexibility to adapt to market changes more quickly, better visibility and alignment between the business and IT, and higher team morale. But this is no small undertaking and you must ask yourself the right questions about your Agile Transformation strategy! At the beginning of an Agile effort, most organizations haven’t realized that they’re not only introducing a new IT initiative but also fundamentally changing the way they do business.

As an Agile Coach, I’ve seen and been part of many Agile transformations. Nowadays, when my fellow coaches and I get together, we often find ourselves wishing that more companies were better prepared before embarking on their Agile journey. I started thinking, if I was a member of the C-suite and I was going to introduce Agile to my organization, what questions would I want to answer in order to give us the greatest chance for success? If you can answer these, I’m confident you will be well on the way to crafting your own transformation strategy.

Strategic

1.  Start with “Why?” 

Agile is a significant change, both how work is done and company culture. Significant change is very challenging, especially without a clear and compelling vision to rally around. So, it’s best to start with asking questions about your Agile transformation, like, “Why are we doing this?”

As you answer that question, here are some related questions to consider:

2. What lengths are we willing to go to as an organization? 

Agile often starts in the IT department and then spreads. It might move to finance if the budgeting process needs to adjust to the emergent nature of Agile culture. It might spread to HR if we discover that our corporate titles and job families don’t align with Agile roles and how we need to recruit for them.

It’s helpful to consider what degree of organizational change we’re willing to implement before other departments get involved. This leads to a series of questions:

3. What is our communications strategy? 

Clear messaging is essential both internally and externally. Here are some communications opportunities to consider:

Tactical

4. What Agile frameworks will we use?   

There are many approaches under the Agile umbrella. Most organizations find that a mix of frameworks, where teams have choices, works best. However, that can introduce challenges when trying to get a cohesive view across the organization. Some questions to consider include:

5. Do we have the right skills to be successful?   

Agile and DevOps go hand in hand. When an organization starts out down the Agile path, it’s also a good idea to incorporate DevOps practices, especially Continuous Integration (CI) and Continuous Deployment (CD). The following questions are important to consider when introducing these practices in your Agile Transformation:

6.) Do we have the correct people in each role? 

Agile roles differ from traditional ones. Organizations often begin an Agile initiative by placing people in roles that appear to map to pre-existing ones, but often the mindset needed is lacking.

This is a list of common Agile roles and a few questions to help you determine whether the person you have in mind embodies the necessary characteristics:

Is your organization looking to integrate teams together and adopt a scaling approach? If so, the following roles may also be needed:

Is your organization new to Agile or finding it challenging to adopt? Bringing an Agile Coach on board can accelerate adoption and help teams work through their challenges.

7. What will we do to educate the entire organization? 

Agile is a different way of working and the organizations who invest in training up front tend to have a smoother path towards adoption. Consider what mix of the following activities might work best:

8. How will we measure progress? 

Metrics can be powerful tools to gain insight into how the transformation is going and answer questions about Agile progress, but, if constructed poorly, can create confusion. When deciding what metrics to gather, be sure to measure what matters, and leave space to evolve over time as the organization advances. Here are a few questions to consider:

And that’s it!  If you’ve taken the time to work through these questions, you’re way ahead of the game. It’s time to get started! Don’t worry if you don’t have all the answers upfront, or if you feel you need some help along the way. We’ve accumulated a lot of experience helping our clients and are there if you need us. Go ahead, take the leap, and have fun – let the journey begin!

Are you ready to take the first step in your Agile adoption journey? Download our ebook “A Guide to Making Your Agile Adoption Work for You” and get started!

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