The Value Driven Agile Transformation

Written by Mike Cottmeyer Saturday, 16 January 2010 07:06

We are almost to the end of the first chapter. This section of the book gives an overview of some of the major concepts around this idea of a value driven agile transformation. It a nutshell, we are talking about finding your critical path… your primary constraints… and start getting better at doing that first. There is some work around figuring out what that constraint is, but we are going to help with that too. After this, I am going to start explaining how we plan to layout the book’s structure.

Value Driven Agile Transformations

Value Driven Agile Transformation is about understanding what your organization values and how it delivers value to its customers. Once we understand clearly what is valuable to our business, we’ll assess the organizational structures and processes you’ll need to create that value. We don’t need to get better delivering everything, just those areas of your business that are going to help move value out the door faster. The idea is that we’ll build agile teams around those parts of your business most likely to create valuable outcomes. This is where you will invest in process improvement and change.

As you progressively assess your organization looking for improvement opportunities, you always focus on the next most important area to improve; and you’ll build more agile teams around those capabilities. You’ll replicate what you have learned adopting agile with your first team and replicate that success across many teams. Once you are good at developing working agile teams, it is time to get more than one team working together to deliver more complex project deliverables. This involves a more robust look at agile project management that just isn’t possible until teams can reliably deliver.

Next we have to look at coordinating multiple initiatives through the organization so we can reliably and predictably deliver more than one project at a time. Trying to get many projects running simultaneously is the area of agile portfolio management. To this point, we will have extended much of what we know about agile to work in larger enterprises, but to address agile portfolio management, we will heavily leverage Lean and Kanban concepts as well as Goldratt’s theory of constraints.

When we talk about enterprise agile transformations, we are suggesting an enterprise that systematically focuses on its next improvement opportunity. One that builds agile teams around those delivery capabilities, and incrementally adopts program and portfolio management and ultimately learns how to manage the flow of value across all components of the larger delivery organization. At true enterprise scale, this including upstream capabilities like marketing and sales as well as downstream capabilities like deployment and support.

This approach requires top down leadership and a bottom up implementation. One where leadership sets the direction and establishes constraints, but with teams that are empowered to operate within those constraints. It requires us to understand how our company creates value, the mechanisms by which that value is created, and how we can most improve to deliver that value. It is a solution that is respectful of the overall organizational systems in which value is delivered. This approach recognizes that financial resources are not unlimited and that we have to invest in ways most likely to yield business outcomes.

We want to recommend an approach that respects the individual and makes work a fun place to be. We want to help you create an environment where people are respected and empowered and challenged to deliver more than they thought they ever might. We also want an environment that is laser focused on business outcomes and creating shareholder value. Unless we are selling products, businesses will not be in business for very long. This is not agile for agile’s sake.

Next up, we’ll talk about the book’s structure and how we are going to break and explain this process. Let me know what you think… I look forward to your comments.

Oh, and by the way… I’m not sure if this goes without saying, but this is the kind of stuff that I do for a living. If you need help driving this kind of change in your organization, please contact me. I’d love to see what the Pillar team and I can do to help. Contact me at mcottmeyer [at] pillartechnology [dot] com.

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