Tuesday, September 15, 2015

What are the Top Challenges in Agile Transformation

The more people you have who don't understand WHY they're doing what they are doing, the harder it will be to change.
Many organizations are in the shift from “doing Agile” to “being Agile.” You're most likely to fail if only development does Agile, and the rest of the organization, in particular, your business stakeholders, do not participate nor understand it. Because doing agile is a methodology and IT management practice, but being Agile is a mindset and culture shift with following the set of Agile principles. So what are the challenges of Agile transformation?

The more people you have who don't understand WHY they're doing what they are doing, the harder it will be to change. These people fear change, because every time there's change, things break, and they don't know why, and they don't know how to fix it without breaking more things. This makes it hard for them to embrace change. Yet, if enough things break and get fixed, they are starting to learn why the fixes that work are good things to do. One of the first things to do is to allow people to make some choices about which path they take - early adopter? mainstream? rearguard? And if rearguard, what will happen when there's no rear to guard?

Overcoming the change inertia of management is crucial for being Agile: Another famous setback is indeed management (middle, higher, project-) who still prefer the fixed time/fixed scope way of working, so are always looking for ways to control the process. Agile advocates the culture of learning and self-management. Managers suddenly felt "powerless" as the progression takes place from the micromanagement of day to day tasks to a self-organizing team. Middle Management has the fear of changes due to their inability to lead but the incessant need to control everything coupled with their unwillingness to change. Managers felt unsettled about what their role actually is in an Agile environment

Introducing the new approaches and processes for training: The hard question here, for any transition, is; how much real learning can you permit, before so many breaks that the business is at risk? Bear in mind that the alternatives are bureaucracy of a different process, and 'training' that is only marginally effective. A favored approach is to introduce the new process with training, then let people break it at a controlled rate. They are there to keep people on track while they have too much to learn to be allowed a totally free rein. They are not there to introduce a different bureaucracy. Yet, many people seem to think they are. Whatever you do, it will be harder if you don't decide up-front, and don't make it clear up-front, what will happen to the people who cannot or will not make the change.

Many think that the hardest things of being Agile are to "responding to change over following a plan" and "individuals and interactions over processes and tools." Because the biggest challenge of Agile transformation is to cultivate the Agile mindset. Making everyone understand that being Agile comes from the mind first. A lack of understanding of Agile that leads to fear among those whom--through that lack of understanding--believe they have a lot to lose. There's more than enough room for everyone to succeed in an agile environment including middle management. Once that fear of change is overcome, the transformation will go much more smoothly.


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