Sunday, March 1, 2015

Agile Governance

Agile governance helps business to manage complexity and achieve resilience.

Governance is like a steering wheel, to ensure your project or business as a whole to run towards the right direction. However, the traditional governance processes are overly rigid, not flexible enough to adapt to the accelerating speed of changes and business complexity. What’s the Agile governance all about, and what’re the best practices and next practices, and what’re the pitfalls need to be avoided?

The entire point of any governance discipline is to optimize decision making. For if they indeed "mastered" IT governance, they would be capable of agile decision-making. "Optimal" decision-making mechanisms ensure decisions occur as fast as they possibly can - with the speed being in perfect balance of cost and risk for the given decision situation. The problem is, governance is almost always associated with compliance and control. Given many organizations don't view governance as "decision-making optimization," their governance efforts usually devolve into time-consuming, costly, over-bearing bureaucratic constructs. So the concept of agile governance is to ensure your organization optimizes the "traditional" governance to which you refer, and then determine how much you are willing to spend to make decisions faster, and how much risk you are willing to accept to make decisions faster (increased decision-making speed will always result in at least one), If you do find an "agile governance" methodology or framework.

Understanding business for the dynamic 'complex, but adaptive system' that they are, is the starting point for agile governance. Quite apart from anything else and without getting into a deep discussion about complexity (as a source of endogenous risk), risk, epistemic/aleatory uncertainty, consider that: unpredictability, uncertainty and the probability of surprising emergent properties increase with the complexity of the systems. Complexity is a measure that depends on the number of system components, interdependencies, and their interactions. The high level of user involvement in development-related decisions underpins an empowerment to project teams to change and re-prioritize delivery plans, which can cause repercussions across a number of areas within IT governance. Agile governance helps business to manage complexity and achieve resilience, which is indicative of a state of interdependence that has desirable characteristics such as self-organizing and self-regulating.

In adopting Agile, some organizations have neglected to consider the broader management-level consequences and the resulting new requirements. This mistake must not be continued, or enterprises will be limited to achieving the benefits of only one (rather than both) of Agile and IT governance - or perhaps none at all. A dynamic development path brings about variability relating to cost and budget models. As development teams strive for the earliest possible delivery of working features that add value, governance practices need to be sufficiently informed and able to keep pace with what is going on. The joint needs of Agile projects and a commitment to governance will increase the extent to which a number of IT management practices have to participate in projects, with a consequent cost. While it is common for advice around Agile practice to detail the on-going involvement of end-users with development teams. The industry study indicates that Agile projects will require a continuing involvement from across a range of different types of governance and management practitioners to adequately support Agile project processes.

So the purpose of agile governance is not to eliminate complexity, but to optimize complexity. The inevitable conclusion is that complexity is, in itself, a source of risk. That, unidentified is, at best, unmanaged and, at worst, mismanaged by the application of knowledge that, results in 'unintended consequences.' Unmanaged endogenous risk does not dissipate but is communicated and amplified through multi-scalar interactions. So the purpose of agile governance is not to eliminate complexity, but to optimize complexity. Expanding to one further level of detail of agile governance practices include:
- Requirements management becomes non-linear due to Agile practices
- More flexible resource management is needed, to cater for Agile
- Agile has some different concepts of value to that used in governance
- In practice, there are potential tensions between governance practices, and Agile- so the two must be successfully integrated
- Agile incurs change within project cost and budget management
- Assessment of financial benefits needs to become more reactive
- Agile projects deliver increasing throughput to change management (which also needs to become more focused across the organization, if it is currently zoomed in on IT)

Agile governance is more holistic, because digital organization is a dynamic, complex and adaptive system, it is not just a new coined buzzword, but the next governance practices for synchronizing project management and change management, well balance of creativity and standard; make faster and better decisions, optimize business complexity and improve organizational resilience.


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