Any agile transformation event needs three dimensions to be successful:
- Organizational structure: The organization has to be structurally aligned to support what you are trying to accomplish with agile. Inability to change structure is a huge reasons why companies fail with agile. This is the main reason why we do a transformation roadmap, so people can understand how we plan to iteratively and incrementally introduce fully functioning agile teams into the organization.
- Agile practices: People need to know what we are asking them to DO differently. The processes… either project management related or technical, need to be well understood and clearly articulated. This is why one of the very first things we do after forming complete agile teams is train them on solid agile practices
- Personal transformation: What really makes agile work is the mindset of the people doing the work. Regardless if its the project manager moving from a command and control mindset, the senior leader learning how to invent people and ask for status differently, or the lead architect having to learn how to deliver products incrementally… its how we approach the work that matters. The challenge is that we can’t lead with asking this from people if the structure and practices don’t support this mindset.
When we do an assessment, there are 5 main competency areas that we focus on:
- Product Definition – How well do we identify what we want to build and what order to build it in
- Planning and Coordination – How to we track and plan our work
- Delivery Practices – How do we technically do the stuff that enables agility
- Continuous Improvement – How well do we inspect and adapt and make the process better
- Organizational Enablement – How well does the organization support agile by aligning individual and team incentives, HR policies, with the agile value system.
There are 5 frequencies we consider for each competency:
- Continuous – How do we implement competencies on a continuous basis?
- Daily – How do we implement competencies on a daily basis?
- Iteration – How do we implement competencies every two to four weeks?
- Release – How do we implement competencies at the three to six month interval?
- Strategy – How do we implement competencies at the strategy level?
And five levels of scale:
- Team – Single team agile
- Multi-team – Coordinating across loosely coupled, independent teams
- Program – Coordinating across tightly coupled team working on a single initiative
- Portfolio – Coordinating multiple initiatives across several tightly coupled teams
- Enterprise – Integrating non-IT functions into the agile delivery process
These competency dimensions provide not only an assessment framework, but also form the basis for the transformation roadmap as we incrementally introduce new structure, new practices, and new ways of thinking into the organization.