How to adopt agile. Hint: it’s simple but not easy

Undertaking the complex journey of organisation change, such as an agile adoption, without metrics in place is pointless, in fact it’s negligence! Imagine taking a car journey without your speedometer or petrol gauge.

Chances are that would not end well.

negligence |ˈnɛɡlɪdʒ(ə)ns|
failure to take proper care over something

Let’s assume that any organisation that adopts agile is looking for some improvement. Perhaps it is improvement in speed to market, increase in product quality, more bang per buck.

However many companies that adapt agile, make it all about the framework, be that SaFE, LeSS, scrum or any of the other ones. Agile should never be about the adoption of a framework, it HAS to be about the proposed business benefits you think you will get.

Therefore, as with anything you want to improve, you need to be able to measure the progress you are making. Measurement is key, without it you may as well not bother making any changes.

The super simple but not easy approach to getting better

  1. Identify the problem to be fixed, no really you need to do this. Dont even think of a solution framework until you do this point.
  2. Define the goal, the target. (Have you really done point 1?)
  3. Define metrics that enables tracking of progress towards the goal.
  4. Using the metrics, baseline them by measuring the status quo
  5. Do an experiment, for example, remove some dependences, implement scrum, increase the capabilities in the team, put an architect in the team.
  6. Measure the outcome and impact of that experiment
  7. Ask yourself 2 key questions: Did we move towards or away from our goal? and is our goal still a useful goal?
  8. Repeat

Experienced agile coaches can really help you design these experiments. Sadly, anyone can call themselves an agile coach, so you need to hire carefully.

In reality all this is an Plan-Do-Check-Act approach. This approach does not look to answer all the questions. You will need to use your judgement, figure stuff out, learn, fail and recover.

This is a good thing.

I see a lot of clients inspired by what Spotify have done, I fully support the idea of coping the Spotify approach, just not the model. They figured it out using experiments over time. They did not copy it from some other company.

Like Spotify, discover your own way, this means that you will own your way of working rather then renting it from someone else.

We need more honest debate in the industry, I would love to hear your comments, do you agree? do you disagree?

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