Sunday, May 22, 2016

"Digital Master" Booking Tuning: #133The Agility Impact on Digital Transformation

Agility involves the whole ecosystem.

Agile is both a philosophy and methodology to run a digital organization. The purpose of agile is to provide value to the business by delivering a product that is beneficial to end users, either internal or external customers. All Agile methodologies define a set of best practices, but true agility is much more than the practices defined in a given methodology. Agility involves the whole ecosystem, including all the stakeholders, from the customer's requirement to the delivery. Agility plays a significant impact on digital transformation. It's to change what the organization currently values in regards to process: Look at transformation goal as more often an enterprise strategic decision for the organization to achieve goals related to financial, market etc. And common understanding is an essential input towards this transformation.

  • Agile is a CULTURE, not a process: If you want to transform the organization to radical digital, you need to change the mindset and the culture. Mindset held by one or more people is a set of assumptions, experiences, and etc that is used as reasons to do things. Often it’s important to adjust the mindset in order to show the benefits of having a common understanding. If there is not a common understanding, then there is more than one mindset to change. Even where people disagree, they really ought to understand why and what they are disagreeing with. Then you can value different opinions and take advantage of them. The construct of the question indicates exclusivity between the two. In fact, they are connected. Many organizations are struggling because they have no common understanding across the board, regardless of methodology, due to their overall culture or mindset. Common understanding can be at many levels. From surface interesting facts understanding to deeper cause-effect reasoning. It's the deeper ones that change the mindset. And it has to be explained from many perspectives thereby, it will create a better model in someone's mind, and explain agility from the user, market, economic, techniques, balance, culture/social and so forth. The mindset change has to do with understanding that doing things differently will bring about that goal more effectively. Agile is not SCRUM, it's not XP, it's a culture within which those processes can flourish. There can be an end state to learning a specific process, but self-improvement is a significant part of the underlying culture. That culture says if something doesn't work, you fix it, and no practices (agile or otherwise) works perfectly all the time. There's always room for improvement, so the process is constantly evolving.

  • The twin goals of an Agile transformation are to increase value received and decrease risk: An organization at any scale that can retain an overall sense of vision and purpose, can communicate effectively, continuously improve, reflect on its own limitations honestly and respond to change dynamically. It is simply more likely to thrive and survive. Overly rigid organizational structures - fixed plans, processes, and purposes -cause an organization to resist (external) change up to a point, but eventually the stresses become too large and failure is inevitable. There are many corporate examples of this - where organizations are unable to adapt to major disruptive change because of their rigid inflexibility and lack of agility. You need to understand the difference between adoption and transformation. Getting teams to adopt Scrum and start doing that well is one small part of what a transformation requires.Think of it this way, Scrum teams are like lots of small cogs spinning together, as they mature that start spinning faster and in and of themselves, they spin smoothly with no outside friction. However, once you engage a larger cog in the form of a larger component then you have friction. Teams are moving fast than organizations tend to which causes breaks in one or more of the cogs. The world keeps on turning, spinning, and innovating around you and there will be new technologies, new approaches, new tools, new people that will have an impact on your team. Eventually, you are spending time "trimming and paring," finding small things to improve and adjusting to immediately current conditions, looking for new ways to "see waste" etc., this becomes a steady state but dynamic equilibrium rather than "End State." And the organization becomes more resilient with high-level of digital agility and maturity.

  • "Transformation is one thing. The state 'to be' is quite another: By definition, if it's transforming from a state to another, it means that one is acquiring a whole set of other things quite different from what they currently have. The driver for transformation would differ from organization to organization based on what the specific problem they're trying to solve is. It is that desired state to be that determines what the mode of the ecosystem of delivery would be. The agile way of working happens to be one of those states. If the transformation is to the agile way of working, then the learning of, shift to and conscious use of empiricism to drive development, surgical and critical focus on value delivery, the practice of collaboration, reflection, constant learning, and retrospection away from and in most cases diametrically opposed to disconnected, impersonal practices. Sometimes, efficiency can be overrated. If the objective is to out-innovate the competition, and inefficiency and internal chaos creates the dynamic for creativity and innovation you might win the competition. Being competitive can have an innovation component, a new capability that unlocks a new market/revenue stream, or a cost-saving component, fewer people needed to generate the revenue or reduced cost of expansion; prioritizing between these with a wider user base can be challenging. Nevertheless, eliminating waste and continuously improving should always be ongoing objectives even if you obtain sufficient agility since this can be easily lost as there are so many variables in the business environment. The more you improve in one area the more you will expose weaknesses in others. You improve literally by iterations. The hard part is not getting content with where you are, and always looking to improve. 

Agile never ends. Digital organization as a whole is anti-fragile, but some parts may be fragile, via applying tailored agility, the digital organization with anti-fragile characteristics can better survive and thrive in volatility and uncertainty, and it can well adapt to the business nature of complexity and interdependence, as well as lift business maturity significantly. The world is changing and continuous adaptation is the only way to survive in a competitive world. Agile is not just a business principle, but a life principle: stand still, fall behind is not what you want.

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