Non-agile delivery methods are costly, slow and often deliver software that requires expensive rework. Agile is a group of delivery methods, principles and practices for effectively delivering software that leverages collaboration and customer feedback. The benefits of adopting Agile Delivery methods include:Happier and more productive employees and “Healthier” delivery teams and work environments. There is NO ONE way that Agile delivery is based on the four principles that relate directly to the Heart of Agile.
Non-agile delivery methods are costly, slow and often deliver software that requires expensive rework. Additionally, these delivery methods often don’t deliver the expected customer and business value. Bummer.
Some common problems that affect organisations that use non-agile delivery methods include:
Expensive project deliverables
Missed market opportunities
Being unable to deliver meaningful value to clients
Lots of “Accidental” Complexity
Ballooning of costs
Inherent “Waste” embedded in rigid processes, re-enforced by organisational culture
Poor collaboration between teams
“Code then Fix” approach to delivery
Difficult to respond “Quickly” to market changes
Long feedback loops between product delivery and expected customer value
Little to no predictability (e.g. quality, schedules, risk, costs, value, etc.)
Strong focus on process and tools, over delivering “actual” business and customer value
Additionally, when using Agile Delivery methods, we use iterative processes to deliver small increments of value at short and regular intervals (AKA sprints, or iterations). These iterations are typically either 2 or 4 weeks long.
These four values relate directly to the four principles that are at the Heart of Agile (described above).
Scrum, Kanban, XP, SAFe, insert-shiny-new-agile-thing-here, (etc.) are all just frameworks/methods that build on these four values. Different methodologies (or the various combinations) will be better suited for different types of teams , or organisations — There is NO ONE TRUE WAY!
Once your delivery methodology is based on the four values above, and there is a deliberate focus on delivery, collaboration, reflection and improvement, you will become agile.
What’s required from Executives?
A shift in the organization will require a shift in thinking and most likely changes in organizational structures and processes.
Executives need to lead the transformation. This is done by:
Shifting from Command-and-Control to Mutual Learning
Being courageous (by being vulnerable)
Adopting the Agile values and principles
Focusing on delivering value vs. meeting deadlines and plans
Learning from “Short” failures
Embracing the fact that the adoption of some Agile delivery practices will require structural changes within the organization (e.g DevOps).
How do you adopt Agile Methods in your organisation?
Again, like with most things Agile, it depends.
Adoption can be seen as a two-pronged transformation initiative — it will require changes in cultural principles and delivery practices.
Culture is that intangible thing that resists change within your company. It is the thing that embodies the ethos of the organization. As such, it is critical that a systematic, from the inside-out approach, is taken to change cultural norms, assumptions and beliefs. This is where the “radical shift” needs to happen.
To achieve this, there are a few core principles that should be adopted and promoted within the company. Specifically, these include:
Coaching — Process, technical, leadership and behavioral
Continuous learning — Promoted at the organization, team and individual-level; and is budgeted for and factored in during planning
Frequent reflection — Retrospectives, Sprint/Iteration reviews, etc.
Individual feedback — Effective/impact feedback, speed-dating feedback, etc.
Estimations as guides not commitments — shift from date-driven planning to value-driven planning. Engineering effort estimates should be seen only as guides and not “holy” commitments that can’t be changed. This promotes transparency and ensures that any change in facts, assumptions and dependencies, or knowledge and experience (e.g. changes to the team), that will impact delivery are shared as soon as they are known