Fortune Favours the Agile
I’ve previously talked about agile and the benefits of blending with waterfall in order to have a customisable and flexible approach to project delivery. One of the key areas for success is to ensure that all relevant stakeholders across all layers of the organisation are involved – encouraging ideas and innovations for improvement. However, the question is, why is this approach usually restricted to only project delivery? How should this approach be applied to other areas in an organisation?
Being agile isn’t just about being able to touch your toes without pulling a muscle; from an organisational perspective it also means adapting to and managing change as well as keeping pace with innovation and changing customer expectations.
Agile methodologies are becoming widely recognised as an industry standard to achieve project success. Agile projects are usually successful when there is buy-in across the organisation and involvement throughout. Where agile projects usually go wrong is when the product delivered is misaligned to business needs. This leads to the rather obvious conclusion that success is built with collaboration across the organisation.
It’s easy for organisations to get stuck in a rut and be reluctant to accept and implement change; too often citing “this is how it’s always been done”. Agile is not a miracle cure, and if implemented in a big-bang approach, is likely to cause fear, friction and reluctance to accept. In order to overcome this, it should be implemented in an incremental way – by starting small and showing success. Implementation should be organised into smaller, consumable practices that can be adopted easily, therefore ensuring that each piece of the chain is as efficient as possible. By introducing incrementally, organisations are more likely to get buy-in with various teams and individuals – leading to champions within the organisation to encourage greater uptake.
Introducing champions will contribute to the culture shift needed. They will lead by example and display the values needed, and in addition to delivery teams, include representatives from core business functions such as HR, Procurement and Senior Management. The champions will help to disseminate the agile mind-set and message across the organisation – and help to reduce the fear of change.
Sometimes organisations need a helping hand – or coaching – to embrace agile. They seek advice and guidance from those with experience and best practice know-how to help put in place a customised approach that fits with their specific in-house processes and framework requirements. Agile coaches can also help the vertical and horizontal communication across the organisation to enable the acceleration of knowledge transfer between the agile champions and teams, before eventually reducing the dependency on the external coach and allowing the organisation to self-manage.
This blended approach will take the ‘best-bits’ of agile and the existing, perhaps more traditional, processes to create an environment that drives continued successful outcomes. And in doing so, help companies to work more like the youthful gymnasts (and touch their toes…)