Starting Agile Transformation ~ 6 Point Agenda

The Explainer

Agile, the second most pronounced word next to ‘Customer’ in every company and team today. Everyone is embarking on Agile to increase the Speed To Value. Organizations and teams leaping on to Agile journey may fail, if they do not understand and follow the ground rules. The ground rules are easy to learn and takes a life time to master. This, 6 Point Agenda, would help application leaders understand the challenge and direction; grasp the current condition and set the agenda for growth.

6 Point Agenda

1. Find out what problems to solve

Getting into the Agile without acknowledging the problems of the team or understanding the direction of the firm would lead to nowhere. There are myriads of tools and frameworks available outside. Before purchasing the fix know your problem and be clear on outcomes expected and target condition.

2. Align the structure

The team working on any of the following unions would not be able to follow the Agile principles and values at any time. Roadmap U Support (mostly L3), Customization U Support and Roadmap U Support U Customization (refer to figure 1). Team members working on this combination would fail miserably and also this derails the team morality on Agile. Because, the high priority support issue for the customer would affect the Roadmap tasks. It makes the developer to switch to a new task and loose the focus.

Figure 1

3. Sell the benefits

Articulate the benefits of being Agile to the leadership and team members separately. Both of them may not be sufficed with same raison d’être.

The business head or the CIO would want to measure the IT performance & organizational performance in terms of stability and throughput. Articulating the gap between High performers and Low performers for the metrics such as *Throughput* (1. Frequency of deployment and 2. Lead time to changes), and *Stability* (3. MTTR- Mean time to recover and 4. Change failure rate) would reassure the Buy-in for Agile transition.

The developers at the bottom of the pyramid may not be swayed away or intrigued by the CIO measures. Vocalizing the benefits such as Home for evening, Learning a new technique, immersing yourself into new buzz words such as DevOps DOJO, Improvement Kata, I’m Otaku, Agile JuiJitsu would excite the them. Also, explaining the feat of other teams would impact the team members greatly.

4. Successful team know the ‘WHY’s of their practices

Teams following Agile practices and principles bluntly without understanding the core essence of ‘Why Do We Do It’ would not succeed in the long run. Show and tell, WHY

i. Standup meeting — Update and co-ordination among team members. Ask for help. Not status meeting.

ii. Sprint planning — understand ‘What’ Product Owner’s (Proxy Customer) priority and urgency. Estimate. Cull the assumptions. Glean more tech. details.

iii. Sprint review — Inspect and Adapt on Product i.e. present the solution developed. Ask for feedback. In-depth conversion between team and PO

iv. Sprint retrospective — Discuss on Communication, Results, Team collaboration, Alignment and Process of getting support, tools, productivity and etc.,

v. Co-location — Email and Lync tag feel slow. Just turning around to ask feel fast.

5. Matured Agile is Sub-conscious and becomes Habit

As mentioned in the introduction, the ground rules are easy to learn and takes a life time to master. Similarly, Going Agile is easy but being Agile is Hard. It is easier to say ‘Yeah! from tomorrow onwards we are Agile. So show up on-time. We will have the standup meeting at 10.00–10.15. Be committed to finish tasks taken up. Let’s show 100% completion of user stories. Ask for help when stuck. Be open. Be brutally honest. Let’s make a great product’. In reality, it sucks. Everyone may not follow the rules of the game. Create Trust by producing outstanding results. All these take time. Results don’t come overnight, it requires hard work and consistency. So be patient.

Remember, those times. The young age, how you started learning bi-cycle riding. You needed a coach (your Dad) to train you. You made mistakes. You fell down. You were hurt. But you did not give up. You practiced. You ride without supervision. You made sprints and marathons. And finally you made stunts during adolescence.

6. Everyone wants to be Agile

Talking to a Developer, Technical Architect or Unit Head would buttress the fact ‘Everyone wants to be working on a new way (i.e. Agile way). Nobody wants to be working in a traditional way. But they don’t know where to start and how to do it’. You will observe an urge to change. Try something new. Fail on that and Learn. Fear of startups or nimble companies eating their lunch. Remember the saying, the brave go there. The brave thrive.

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