Tuesday, August 25, 2015

CIOs as An Agility Leader: Is Agile a Choice or Necessity in your Organization?

By "believe in agile," you need to have in-depth understand of its values and 12 principles in the software agile manifesto.
Agile is more as a philosophy than a methodology. It is impossible to do anything, to carry out any human action, without constant observation of your environment, and constantly modifying your behaviour to accommodate your current circumstances, while at the same time behaving in an orderly fashion and moving towards your ultimate goal. This is agile behavior, which is a natural, normal and usual way to behave, regardless of what it is you are trying to achieve. Even the short distance trip demands an element of preparation and planning, with empiricism, collaboration and behavior adjustment as required. More specifically, what is the beauty of Agile, what does it imply by “believe in agile”? And Is Agile a choice or necessity in your organization?

By "believe in agile," you need to have in-depth understand of its values and 12 principles in the software agile manifesto. Intrinsically you look at things in an empirical way and are prepared to deal with things like changes, uncertainty, ambiguity, complexity. The two hardest parts are not rushing the maturity of your team and to have the wisdom to choose what works for your team without making Agile become a religious or turf war. Agile may not be a silver bullet, but it is certainly effective. Turf wars are hard to avoid with implementing this way, because there are those who are so "siloed," they will go against what is best for the team in order to make sure they have their piece of the power or decision-making process. As such, they pick and choose the parts from different agile approaches to implementing, but sometimes with ignorance of the principles behind it or missing the big picture.

Agile is not a choice, but a necessity. Dealing with increasing complexity of business processes, and the high level of dependencies that distributed services has brought, it is almost impossible to plan ahead completely. Stakeholders get nervous when the project does not deliver to their plan. At that point they return to what they know, reestimate on the product nobody quite fully understand, bargain down buffers because history never repeat itself, or does it? Replan delivery on that basis and everybody feels better til next time. The important question is whether most organizations are even capable of letting go. Moving to agile at the organizational level involves non-trivial changes to the core structure of the organization, empowering the team means getting rid of command and control management, giving teams control of their own budget, etc; and focus on more value-focused planning.

The beauty of Agile, is the feedback during the process, and deal with change requirement on the fly. Agile is not a silver bullet for all software development problems in the world. It is designed to address some shortcomings of Waterfall methodologies, and it works well. It is based on communication - and that works if you have on-going access to customer feedback. That is when you can truly be agile. Agile is a principle to adapt to changes. It handles change requirements at the mid route, or at least, this is the beauty and practicality of Agile and its name indicates. But without the feedback from end users or stakeholders, at least, you have no impetus for change during the process, and it might be waterfall as well. The beauty of Agile, is the feedback during the process early, so that you can truly meet requirements, and you can adjust as necessary to market, customer, whatever vagaries or new inputs and feedback on what you understood as requirements. You can decide to make the changes or not.

So. let's harness our natural proclivities, develop a culture of creativity, comprehend the realities of uncertainty, and keep a constant eye on prevailing circumstances. Agility is a mindset and philosophy that you can apply very easily and seamlessly to many things, not just software development. Therefore, an agile shift is scaling up at organizational level as a set of principles to run a high-performing and high-mature digital organization.


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