Agile Adoption

Succeed where agile adoption has stalled, 5 tips to get it moving!

Whenever a new policy, benefit program, rule, regulation, or a new tool is introduced to an organization, some type of plan is created to help communicate goals and what will be done to achieve those goals.  

While much effort is put into creating plans for some of those typical events or initiatives, we often see that agile adoptions stall because organizations will fail to create a proper sustainable transformation strategy that is appropriate for agile 

Agile is not a one-time event and the planning for an agile transformation shouldn’t be planned in the same way as new policy, program, rule, regulation, or tool and not like a typical project. If so, there will always be a perception that agile has “stalled” because reinventing an organization is not the same as “change management”.  

Here are 5 tips to get your agile adoption moving again! 

1. Create a strategy that nurtures transformation, not just adoption

Did your organization have a lot of people trained which resulted in a lot of teams doing Scrum, but the full return on investment hasn’t been realized yet? Training is great for foundational knowledge and adopting agile practices is not a bad thing as it helps teams to get into the rhythm of what it feels like to work in an agile way.  

Or maybe your organization didn’t start with training at all, but instead with a team of early agile adopters who made “agile” seem easy. Early adopters are usually a group of enthusiast people who are on a development team and are selected or volunteer to be an agile pilot who will adopt the popular Scrum framework.  

Training and small pilot teams are a great way to start, but how does an organization address which practices work best for which type of work or team?  

Here are more questions to consider: 

  • Once teams move from training to mastery, what next? 
  • What conditions are necessary for agile success?  
  • What’s the plan to address barriers or impediments that prevent people from being agile? 
  • Does the philosophy of the organization align with agility? 
  • Which framework or set of frameworks are the right choice for the organization? 

Transformation tackles the hard part, and it begins when the organization shifts from agile adoption to creating a system to support agility not just at team level, but all levels in the organization.   

It’s important to think about creating a strategy that focuses on all of the above and more.  

2. Create an agile vision.

Shouldn’t every product, solution or set of goals start with a vision? 

Most organizations fail to establish a vision for what their objectives and desired outcomes are when it comes to agility.  

Experts, consultants, and other well-versed agile people know what agile means but what does it mean to the organization?  

It’s important to provide some directive to people as it can help create a focal point for not just the next set of early adopters but also those who have crossed the chasm towards maturation.  

3. Identify measures of agile success

Define what agile success looks likes, steer clear of vanity metrics and revisit these metrics often.   

Successful agility will stall if success is not defined appropriately and not having a set of success metrics can lead to scaling bad practices.  

Beware of “perceived” successes since we have seen organizations assume that if a team has adopted a set of practices (typically Scrum) that they are reaping all the rewards that agility brings.  

This is not true. Just as adopting a set of martial arts moves will not help a person in a stressful, potentially combative situation. Is it okay to include how many people have been trained or how many teams are practicing a specific framework? Yes, but not as a stand-alone metric of success and only if these statistics matter to an organization.

  • Do employees feel safe enough to be transparent about failure? 
  • Is value being delivered to customers continuously and at a sustainable, predictable pace? 
  • Are employees and customers happy? 
  • What else matters? 

Consider how your organization currently measures the success of a feature or solution delivered to end customers. It doesn’t simply stop at “we delivered” as its typically a set of metrics that tell the entire story which serve as additional input as to which service, feature or solution should be delivered to the customer next.  

Defining measures of success for agility is no different.

4. Leadership needs to model agile behaviors.

Having top-level leadership involved is necessary however it must be more than a directive or one-time “We’re going Agile!” announcement. Change is a team sport and shouldn’t be viewed from the sidelines. Leadership, at all levels, needs to adopt behaviours consistent with the change they expect to see in the rest of the organization.  

The easiest way to start is by viewing agility as not a project, but a cultural change where ways of working patterns are established and optimized through frequent inspection and adaption cycles. 

5. Bring in the experts

The best economical decision that an organization could make would be to hire a team of agile experts that can help an organization assess their current state and co-create a tailor-made agile transformation roadmap that includes multiple levels in an organization.   

We would love to partner with you and share more tips! Drop us a comment if you would like to learn more.  

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Born 1965, San Antonio, Texas and lives in Dallas, Tx.
Mr. James, Ronald, Maverick holds a Bachelor of Science in Psychology at The University of Texas, San Antonio.

Mr. Maverick or JR as many call him is a “slick” but warm and friendly character in our upcoming book on the DevOps Mindset. Mr. Maverick cares about his IT team very much and could charm the socks off a Texas Longhorn. JR is liked by many in his organization; however, he is not as well trusted by the Overlords as he used to be. Mr. Maverick has a group of loyal staff, including Mr. Barker a bit of an opposite to JR. Of course, Mr. Barker would never call him JR; he would only call him Mr. Maverick because well, Mr. Maverick is his boss. Mr. Maverick has held many IT positions in the past, including starting as a Sales Professional for HP and IBM mini and mainframe computers. Over the years he has risen through the ranks to hold this senior position by delivering using high-paid consultants and Big name firms. He also received his promotion from outsourcing to a foreign country where he was able to reduce his IT spend significantly. Recently he has discovered (actually this was made painfully aware to him by the Overlords) that both the Offshore roadmap and use of external consultants was not giving him the value and velocity for his IT department, and he was probably paying more than he bargained for

So, after hearing a talk at a DevOps event by the Agents of Chaos, JR decided to enlist them to help with their digital transformation roadmap and help improve the value, focus and velocity of his department. However, MR. Maverick has a few ideas about agile and DevOps, something he has heard about for a while and read in various CIO magazines; he thinks of these as Marketing terms and something that can be bought. While Mr. Maverick has held on for many years to traditional IT ways of working he has come to the end of his tenure if he doesn’t do something fast and get DevOps working quickly as he has promised to the Overlords providing him with a little more rope to get the transformation completed more quickly as they view his IT department ageing, procrastinators who are not able to keep up with business demands. JR says in his mind, “I will get it done, they don’t call me Maverick for nothing!“