Saturday, October 12, 2013

From ‘Doing Agile’ to ‘Being Agile’

‘Being Agile’ is a status quo in order to breakdown the status quo.

Agile is not just the software management methodology, from efficiency to effectiveness to agility, it is an ultimate goal organizations pursue to reach their maturity. Indeed, we want to see teams and organizations being agile rather than doing agile. Doing agile is still not good enough, as it is a process only; being agile means changing the way people think and behave. So one of the burning topics is how you can use agile practices effectively on large programs or across the wider organization?

First of all, you need to look at it from a top-down business management perspective of, how the company defines its business strategy with the need for providing some sort of mechanism to integrate the Agile development process with the company's business strategy. The problem is that many Agile practitioners look at things primarily from a development perspective of how to optimize the development effort at the individual team level, but the problem is much bigger than that at an enterprise level. There are typically different levels of management that are part of integrating the development effort with the business strategy of the company.

Tactically, there are two approaches to scale Agile: Using Enterprise Level Agile Framework or organizational redesign as an often preferable alternative to scaling. Either way, put emphasis on the principles and behaviors over the process and practices, the point is: You can't look at the problem only from the bottom-up developer perspective about what needs to be done to optimize the development effort, and address how you bring those two perspectives together, the goal for being agile is about iterative communication and incremental improvement, to breakdown the silo thinking and enforce cross-functional collaboration in achieving the business optimization. 

Being Agile means to solve business problems more effectively & collaboratively: Problem solving practice developed over many years shows that breaking big problems into smaller problems is the best way to solve problems. Break them down until you have small enough problems to solve and then solve those small problems. By solving lots of small problems, you solve big problems. Same with business goals, by breaking big goals into smaller goals, each delivers a part of the big goal, you can more easily identify where the real value is and focus on the high value, cutting out the low-value noise.

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.

Every situation is different and you have to fit the solution to the problem. From doing agile to being agile, it is the transformation from methodology adoption to mind shift, from process toning to culture refining; from an industrial business model jumping into digital enterprise dynamic.


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