Agile transformations

Agility allows organizations to swiftly react to new information, competitors, and business models changing the face of an industry within a matter of months. When implementing Lean-Agile practices at scale, organizations quickly realize that their push for agility conflicts with traditional budgeting and cost accounting practices. It’s not possible to truly achieve organizational agility without evolving these practices.

Like all major undertakings, the agile transformation process begins by designating a leadership team, setting goals, and creating a roadmap. Periodic check-ins of progress made against the roadmap and necessary adjustments are essential to keeping the project on track while still being realistic.

A communication plan should accompany the tactical one, to ensure the entire organization understands the objectives and is continually notified of progress against the goals. As this is such a large endeavor, smaller pilots are usually conducted before an organization-wide rollout.

Assembling cross-functional teams is key, creating groups of 5-10 individuals that have enough expertise and talent between them to take on projects from inception to completion. These self-contained units are able to eliminate handoffs and the inevitable problems that arise during those transitions.

Project assignment also shifts from the individual to the team approach. The team as a whole is evaluated for different projects and specific staff is not cherry-picked for a particular engagement.

To make this happen, waterfall development, organizational silos, and bureaucracy must be curtailed to provide an environment that embraces agile transformation. While some of this may be done in one fell swoop, much of this is ongoing, continual assessment and improvements to continue fostering an agile-friendly workplace. This may even include changes to office layouts to colocate team members in the same physical space.

Employees will also need continual coaching and professional development to make the most of an organization’s agile transformation. These are new concepts and best practices for most staff, so investments in training and mentoring are key to company-wide buy-in. This includes empowering employees to work independently and solve problems themselves while also educating managers on how to evaluate and reward staff in this new paradigm.

New processes must be developed, and new tools and solutions may be acquired to facilitate these new workflows. Each will need ownership, training, and dissemination throughout the organization.