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Reaching agility: Why aren't we done yet?

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Reaching agility: Why aren't we done yet?

  1. 1. Reaching Agility: Why aren’t we done yet? Nicola Dourambeis September 2019
  2. 2. Enterprise Agile, Innovation & Organizational Transformation Former salesforce VP & first agile hire. Learned agile at ThoughtWorks in 2004 Consulting clients include Athena Health, Medium, eBay, British Telecom Focus on people and culture over process and tools
  3. 3. What we mean by Agile Transformation Four issues that make it really hard Some advice and lessons learned
  4. 4. What do we mean by Agile and why Transform?
  5. 5. Business Agility - The ability to respond to new opportunities or changes without losing momentum or vision
  6. 6. For those of you who are looking for a step by step instructions on how to do transformation, you’ll be disappointed by this talk. But here’s some help.
  7. 7. Agile google results 1 & 2
  8. 8. Big Five Consulting
  9. 9. With all of this information freely available, why are many still struggling with agile transformation?
  10. 10. Here are 4 issues that are making things hard
  11. 11. Issue #1 – We don’t understand the “why” What problem are you trying to solve?
  12. 12. We have to align on an understanding of what we hope to achieve If agile means the installation of a process, then that is relatively easy But if it’s “transformation” for an outcome (and let’s acknowledge that no one likes to change), then there has to be a simple well understood reason to make the change
  13. 13. The purpose of our agile transformation is so we can predictably deliver high quality customer value with happy teams
  14. 14. Issue #2 – We don’t thoroughly understand our entry point or baseline, yet apply a one-size fits all solution
  15. 15. Before we “transform”, we have to understand: where we are how we got here what we need to amplify & what we need to change While there are common patterns, every company is different
  16. 16. agile agile assessment findings (at 2008) 19 year old enterprise saas company Successful forth quadrant product, scaling rapidly to multi product suite Innovative, risk taking culture. History of taking big bets. Leader in Cloud – helping to define the industry Well understood force ranked priorities from the CEO on down Large investment in technical infrastructure and automation allowing for low risk releases Strong relationships with customers and deep values in quality and trust Scrum rolled out in 2006 Profile Amplifiers Challenges Goals Instill agile values and principles across all levels. Build stronger middle management capabilities and push responsibility down Improve predictability with richer team planning and recalibration Rationalize global processes, expose bottlenecks and constraints . Static use of scrum from the book, which in practice were mini month waterfalls Command and control leadership styles, lots of top down decision- making and heroics Lack of predictability and difficulty with managing dependencies
  17. 17. Approach: Agile training for whole teams, leaders, new hires focused on values and principles Lightweight global planning framework & integrated bottom up release planning Leadership coaching, sprint review transparency for feedback and course correction
  18. 18. Alpha company agile assessment findings 20 year old healthcare saas company Distributed R&D development across 5 US locations and India New CTO brought in to modernize technology/ Platform Strong history of profits, with growing market consolidation & customer attrition Very culture focused CEO/founder – “teachers and learners” Young, smart employees. Many straight out of college, with long tenures Very start-up like in drive to “get stuff done” Various agile mechanics in place Profile Amplifiers Challenges Goals Create a predictable delivery cadence with upgraded quality for better customer outcomes Build strategic roadmap capabilities that balance current needs with new innovation Create common patterns for scaled execution (people, technology, capabilities) No product management function Distributed QA, mostly manual testers and insufficient automation Many hybrid roles and a lot of “we are so unique that we had to invent it” (roles, tools, etc.) History of bespoke solutions for large customers
  19. 19. Approach: Build product management team/capability Update quality strategy with automation and push responsibility to scrum teams Change organization to scrum team structure (funding), roll out scrum Slow down deployment and increase quality in releases
  20. 20. Beta company agile assessment findings 9 year old enterprise saas company High growth mode, gearing up to IPO in the next couple of years Large international presence –customers, offices and employees Unique industry with commanding market leadership Tech & product executive team are very agile, very open to feedback Modern technology choices with many deployments a day. Lots of automation High degree of personal autonomy and entrepreneurialism Lots of agile ceremonies in place Profile Amplifiers Challenges Goals Increase resiliency with teamwork, fewer handoffs and reduced silos Focus execution on fewer priorities, delivered to completion Build common standards and practices across all teams for better collaboration, less duplication & risk Functions operate very silo’d, despite apparent team formation Lots of unnecessary handoffs across functions Too much work in progress, too many concurrent priorities Lots of responsibility held by very few people, insufficient delegation
  21. 21. Approach: Build up Scrum Master role. Train agile values for better teamwork Embed all functions (including UX and QE), merge tiny teams Force rank prioritize and minimize work in progress Create standards & patterns to guide development for scale
  22. 22. Measure outcomes rather than outputs. 3-5 is plenty (bonus if some are counter measures) Just as the approaches are different, what we measure should be too Measurements are tricky as they influence behavior and could have unintended consequences
  23. 23. Issue #3 – We under- estimate the challenge of “people, mindset or culture transformation”
  24. 24. Even though we *know* it’s about people, many transformations focus on the implementation of a process or tool …sometimes by people too junior and without experience in people change management
  25. 25. Doing agile does not mean becoming agile What works in one team/department/company may not work in another It’s easy to get stuck, ignore or not know how to adapt when people behave in unexpected ways
  26. 26. Issue #4 – We expect there to be an end point when we are Transformed ….even though our business should be constantly changing
  27. 27. We may find that at a certain point what we did before no longer produces the same results Scaling, growth, even routine, can start to show diminishing returns or backslide
  28. 28. We mistakenly believe there should be a “done” state Agility isn’t the point Agile isn’t an end It’s a means to a never-ending transition to a better, and better, and better, state
  29. 29. So what should we do? Some advice and lessons learned
  30. 30. Use agile to deliver agile Start with the people: Align leaders on outcomes, required changes and tradeoffs Rationalize the organizational structure to support agile delivery (roles, teams, incentives)
  31. 31. Form a cross functional team with every role required to support change They figure out the agile narrative, measure and global standards Make the transformation part of their job responsibility and goals
  32. 32. Make obstacles visible: Are priorities clear? Are teams able to focus on the end to end outcomes? Are there too many dependencies? Do teams locally optimize? Does everyone agree on who is the customer?
  33. 33. Amplify successes: Positive examples build momentum Reward learning, teaching, coaching, community Make results real – create connections to customer benefit and joy
  34. 34. Train everyone on agile values and principles. Apply it immediately Focus on mindset. Processes may need to change over time Invite flexibility and autonomy with mechanics Push decision making to the lowest responsible level to increase accountability
  35. 35. My agile transformations generally: Pilot and measure Experiment and iterate Fail fast and learn Inspect and adapt Focus on customer outcomes
  36. 36. Final Thoughts
  37. 37. There may be many transformations needed in your evolution And that’s ok Your customers change Your business changes Your people change Why wouldn’t your agile adapt?
  38. 38. But always remember the “why” on your journey We want to create an environment where it’s easy and joyful to do hard work. And deliver benefits that show results and make us proud Which is the point of reaching agility
  39. 39. Questions?

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