Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Digital Master #88: Three Aspects in “Being Agile”

The "state of mind" is a big part of the agile transformation!

Many organizations are transforming from doing Agile to being agile, scale the agile philosophy, methodology and practices to run the business as an Agile Innovator. But many such initiatives fail to achieve the expected result, and most of the businesses still get stuck in between, what are the big barriers to be agile? Isn't Agile about transparency too? Why are you not able to have open and constructive conversations about the situation? Why do you have to act beneath the company's radar screen? Is "Being Agile" a crucial stage of becoming a Digital Master?

First, set a performance-based Agile mindset: As difficult as it may be, it is good to set out your transformation with an Agile mindset. The transformation effort has to begin not at implementing Agile practices and values but to transition the people to a performance-based mindset. Only then can you begin to frame Agile from a metrics, performance perspective, allowing new ways of working to be understood. What doesn't work fine is a large organization with no imagination thinking that it can become agile, in both the literal and figurative sense of the word without giving some serious thought to the way that the organization works. You can't change without being willing to change. And in any really large organization, you cannot, reasonably, get one mindset for everybody. New paradigms come along with sufficient frequency that a new one will have started along the adoption curve before the last one has completed. Thus, any really large organization needs to cope with the permanent case that there will be multiple mindsets; multiple cultures. Unless it actively acknowledges and accommodates this, or alternatively drives rapidly through each adoption curve, there will be constant internal strife.

Overcome the barriers to be agile: We live in the real world, not the ideal world. Everybody favors the "best options" - yet we might have different views on what such options are. true agility and superior performance will be attained only once you accept that management shouldn't be confined and secluded to ivory towers. Of course, you need enlightened managers to make things happen positively, several "barriers" to adopting agile in a company:
(1) Still doing Agile, not being agile: Software development is only part of the company, and the remainder of the company sees Agile as a software development methodology only.
(2) People resist change. People can find "What in it For me" by adopting agile, in a larger company, HR controls how/when performance reviews are done and how compensation is handled.
(3) Corporate bureaucracy. There are departments dedicated to processes that constrain development teams in the name of quality. There's a lack of trust within or across the agile teams.

Strike the balance between stability and agility: If Agile wants to "scale" or deal with domains other than "software development," then it must also acknowledge what other approaches are used in those other dimensions or domains. It is important to strike the right balance between stability and agility. Some  see "stability" as a defensive position, protecting the organization, and "agility" as more aggressive, aimed at capturing market share and so on. So the "strategy" to be agile is being largely about getting the balance right between the two. This mix will vary with organizational function, and it will evolve over time as the organization grows (or not) and the market evolves, changes and is disrupted. Here are some guidelines.
- Accept not everything will work the first time
- Break down the work into smaller manageable chunks
- Choose the right people
- Define the plan into smaller chunks for work and small co-located teams
- Ensure user participation, feedback and buy-in
- Fail fast, learn quickly
-Amplify best or next practice at business scope systematically.

The "state of mind" is a big part of the agile transformation! Doing Agile is only an engineering practice, but being agile is the multidisciplinary challenge from top-down and bottom-up. Being agile also means to become a truly holistic organization. Organizational agility is only achieved when the organization changes, stops talking about IT and business as separate entities and recognize that it is one organization with one set of goals and objectives, and start to think how best to achieve those goals, recognizing that there is always room for improvement.

Digitalization is like a flywheel, and Digital Masters are the one riding above it. Surf more Information about Digital Master:
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