Based on the topics presented at the Agile 2011 conference last week, I think that we as a community might misunderstand what enterprise agile is all about. To me, enterprise agile is not about one or two teams doing agile in a gigantic company. It’s not even about 100 teams doing agile in a gigantic company. If those teams live within a non-agile project environment, if they are not tightly integrated with the overall value stream, or they represent a small piece of the end-to-end process, you really just have one or more instances of small team agile. Teams which just happen to be operating in a large enterprise.
Enterprise agility is more about being able to inspect and adapt in the large. It’s about making smaller bets at the executive level. It’s about having the ability to balance the sales and marketing side of the business with your ability to create working products, and then support those products in a sustainable way. Enterprise agility is about integrating finance and human resources so that our entire business is setup to respond to changes in the market, and holistically we are able to deliver the most value possible within the time and cost constraints we’ve established. Personally, I’d rather talk about a 125 person company end-to-end than one or two teams in a 20,000 person company.
As a community, I’d like us to start producing more case studies about what is working, and what’s not working, as some of us try to do these things in real companies. I’d like to see the conferences open up and realize that end-to-end agility is the next big frontier, and we need to start talking about adoption and transformation patterns that scale at these levels of the organization. Here is a link to the talk that Dennis and I did last Tuesday called ‘Exploring Enterprise Agile Transformation Strategies’. It’s clearly not the final word, but it’s the stuff we are doing to help enable true end-to-end business agility for the customers we work with.
Would be interested in your thoughts… is enterprise agile just about super large companies, or is it more about the a breadth of the transformation, and the number of business processes we have a chance to impact? Do the patterns that work for 125 scale to 20,000? I think so… but only time and experience will tell.