Before You Can Customize You Must Standardize.

I like to point out that Agile is going to look different from one company to another. In fact, it often looks different from one team to another. To get the most from an Agile transformation there needs to be freedom for the teams to adapt. This isn’t the whole story though.

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Stuart Miles –

Just as humans must walk before they run teams must start along an Agile path before they can create their own trail. It’s a truth that has been known for ages among many specialties over time. The most common reference is to Shuhari. The basic premise is that you start by imitating what someone else does. You then progress to modifying it to better suit your situation. You end the end up as a master that can create new ways of doing on your own. This same logic applies to attempting an Agile transition in a company. Whether the pilot program or the last team on board the truth is the same.

For the first team in a company it is almost always  easiest to start with an established methodology followed to the letter. In today’s world that will almost always be scrum. It may be Kanban. In some cases a coach may actually craft their own system out of others that better suits an organization. Of course, that assumes the transition has hired on a coach to spearhead the transition. An organization in the midst of a transition may approach this a little differently.

When an organization has already brought many teams through a transition there are going to be lessons that have been learned. The organization will have a better idea of what types of agile methods work then a team in those cases. As such a vanilla off the shelf methodology may no longer fit when trying to convert a new team.

As the teams in either of these cases grow though, it goes right back to allowing them to be Agile. If they identify challenges that they have, and figure out ways to overcome them, the organization must do what it can to support the changes. There should be little to no risk to the organization as the team must work out organizational requirements as part of the problem solving process. These teams can bring their solutions back to the organization to help define better starting points for future teams.

Customization of process is an integral part of Agile. It needs to be done appropriate to the level of the team. It needs to be done in the context of where the organization is in an Agile transition.

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