Why Agile


Product organizations are going through significant transformation. Business/commercial expectations of the Product organizations are changing; customer (buyer) behaviors are changing; how software gets priced; distributed and implemented is changing; People/employee expectation within an organization is changing; etc. All of this has led to the Product organizations transforming their inner-working and organizing things differently.

As someone who has been introducing Lean/Agile at large, distributed, global organization and preaching, evangelizing Agile for several years now — I have found organizations that have adopted Agile find themselves well situated to be able to transform successfully. Over the years, I have seen my fair share of successes and challenges in its adoption across several large R&D organizations globally. Good news is that Agile is now well understood and accepted as a practice. It is more common now for me to meet Agile converts then Agile detractors so-as-to-speak. It help promoting Agile discussion now then what it was several years back.

These days, it is more common where someone will engage me on “How” to achieve agile. It is a healthy sign as an organization should continue to retrospect/improve or implement Agile practice. I also encourage organization to engage right agile coach to provide refresher on lean/agile practices. However, for the agile transformation to be successful in an organization — it is vital that people are remaining true to “Why” an organization is pursuing Agile as it help with the “How” of agile.

Here are some of the key transformation happening in the product organizations to pursue Agile:

1. Customer Experience: Know thy market/customers extremely well and build innovations that will succeed in the marketplace. Can’t emphasize enough around this point otherwise much of R&D $s end up delivering stuff that no one wants or don’t delight customers. Key here is to focus on the right few that matter by being grounded on sound customer-connected approach in an agile way.

2. Continuous Delivery: Increasing the pace of delivery as focus shift from longer and bulkier delivery cycle to shorter (& continuous) delivery cycle of the right things that customer want (enabled by automation). Learn by delivering software sooner and adjust based on customer feedback early in the cycle.

3. From Product Development to Service Delivery organization: As businesses move from Perpetual to Subscription — it is not just about developing/shipping a feature. Customers should be able to successfully consume those features at the pace of delivery and continue to remain delighted as a paid subscriber.

4. Adaptable organization: Pace of industry transformation hasn’t been any faster and organization ability to keep up with the change and transform adopting new skills/methods. Either an organization fight the change and worry about when the next shoe will drop or become an organization that understand the continuous nature of change and lead/participate keeping things relevant by driving changes.

5. Continuous improvement: Agile organization culture where teams are empowered (decision-making at appropriate level) that hold itself accountable and has a culture of continuous improvement.

It is equally important to also understand what Agile is NOT about as there are common myths that I hear based on individual interpretation of “How” agile.

1. Agile is NOT about sliding schedule where things get done when they get done. Sense of urgency around schedule remains. Predictability around delivery of things and Planning is still how organizations, customers, businesses plan and works.

2. Agile is NOT about developing and delivering code quickly over Quality. There has never been much higher premium on the Quality and Customer experience in our industry than ever before. In a Subscription and social media connected “word of mouth” world where loyalty is hard earned — it is easily destroyed by a poor quality incident.

3. Agile is NOT about less importance to people managers over team collaboration. People/Talent development is critical to succeed in the current competitive environment to develop a world-class organization. It is very complementary to agile team inner-working.

Interested to hear others perspective on their Agile journey.