In February 2001 a diverse group of software engineers gathered and published the Agile Manifesto, codifying a radically different approach to building software. Instead of endless planning and hierarchies, the manifesto encouraged constant collaboration and adjusting to customer needs in close to real time. Over the last two decades, this simple concept has unleashed massive amounts of innovation and unlocked customer value in virtually every industry. Today there are a variety of agile methodologies that are based on the original Manifesto, including Scrum, Kanban, Lean Development and Scaled Agile.
In fact, the latest State of Agile survey indicates that over 90% of respondents indicate they are practicing some sort of Agile methodology (such as Scrum or Lean). While some are benefiting from agile adoption (better managing changing priorities, improved delivery time, improved transparency) many others continue to struggle with gaining business value from agile adoption.
Common Agile Adoption Challenges
If not addressed, challenges can quickly contribute to a failed agile adoption – a recent Forbes/MIT white paper indicates that over 40% of agile transformations are a “complete failure.” Below are some of the common reasons why.
Organizational resistance to Agile Values
Lack of Senior Leadership Advocacy and Support
Unclear Agile processes across teams
Lack of Agile Experience and Leadership
What’s Your Why – Before undertaking a broad agile transformation define why you are doing it. Is it to better to respond to your client’s requests? Is it to empower your workforce? Is it to improve software quality? Defining your strategic drivers is vital because they provide valuable “change” context for your leadership team, extended team members and other stakeholders.
Set The Tone – While many agile adoptions begin organically, they frequently stall without leadership support and protection. To encourage support for Agile “experiments” begin adopting the principles at a management level. For example, rather than a weekly status meeting try implementing a daily stand-up for a critical effort. Or experiment with implementing a Kanban board that transparently shows your priorities and what their current state is. You may be pleasantly surprised how quickly your team embraces the concept and encourages others to follow suit.
Hit the Books – While there is a plethora of free training available on various Agile concepts and methodologies, much of this training is conceptual and decoupled from the cultural dynamics of your organization. Partner with your Training organization (or an outside company) and develop impactful, customized training that matches your organizational goals (your agile methodology, organizational terminology, style, etc).
Get your Ted Lasso – While we all believe we can get in shape on our own, most of us benefit from the expertise of a coach. The same holds true with agile – you should have someone with a holistic, system-level thinking view and the ability to connect the dots between business agility, technology and team-level agility. Typically, Agile coaches have deep experience working with teams, managing change and implementing reasonable metric frameworks, all vital components of a success Agile adoption.
While the amount of work needed to successfully implement agile may seem daunting, a systematic approach can dramatically improve your odds of success. Contact OBV to see how we can help you.
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