Success Requires Everyone

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Agile transformations affect the entire organization. Successful transformations require participation from everyone in the organization. The teams have to be willing to try new ways of working. Management needs to be willing to try new ways of determining success. Executives need to be willing to try new ways of measuring value. It can even be more specific with Human Resources needing to find new ways to structure compensation and legal finding new ways to structure contracts.

Failed and struggling Agile implementations often leave someone out. Sometimes it is a bottom up process struggling with blockers or legacy process. Other times it may be a top down initiative fighting teams that are against changing their process. The problems can even be external where a client will not, or cannot, accept a new contract structure to support Agile. In any case the more people on board, the greater the probability of success.

Most coaching works hard to help the team succeed. The team gets all the attention. New processes are introduced. A team room is created. Teamwork is emphasized. A sense of unity is pushed. These are not bad things and they will help the transformation succeed. The problem is that the coaches interaction with higher levels of the organization is usually limited to reporting on progress and status. Coaching needs to be brought to everyone.

Agile methodologies bring about a whole new mindset for the team to work in. To support the team successfully their management needs to understand what they are doing. Just as the team has an obligation to the Product Owner to deliver value their manager has an obligation to the directors or executive teams to deliver value. This is a different value. The teams should be contributing not only to the goals of the product, but the goals of the organization. Management needs to be coached in how to read this in a new Agile world. It can range from leaving behind performance appraisals in favor of 360 degree reviews to eliminating required training in favor of guided learning paths.

Executives will need to learn how to read new metrics properly. One teams velocity chart cannot be compared to another for decision-making. Story points are not universal. Delivered value will appear more often, but be in smaller chunks. There will be more need to cast vision and less need to drive results via metrics.

On the surface the idea of moving to Agile is a great idea. Underneath it is messy. Most methodologies will expose organizational deficiencies. Everyone needs to be willing to change and address these to succeed. Every group not on board is a deficiency that will not be addressed.

How do you spread your Agile transformations across the organization?

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