Driving Change: Agile Transformation & Development Excellence

January 20th, 2017   /   Posted by Peter Karlson   /   Category: Agile/Scrum, Commentary, Uncategorized   /   Topics: , ,

Agile Transformation, Scaled Agile, Enterprise Lean Agile… whatever the latest terminology, it’s all about taking the right steps toward achieving a positive business outcome. In our work with executive teams and across organizations to drive development excellence and realize a true “transformation”, successful companies share the following commonalities:

Recognition of the Problem

Most enterprises notice “the problem” manifesting itself in several ways:

  • Schedules and releases are unpredictable.
  • The “quality” of developed products is suffering.
  • The time to market is critical, yet the organization consistently fails to meet milestones and shipment schedules.
  • The customers are unsatisfied (and in some cases jumping ship to competitors). At times it is even difficult to find a client to be used as a reference.
  • Teams and individuals are not performing equally or are not measured systematically.
  • There is low visibility into the depth of the problems and difficulty in isolating areas for improvement.
  • Teams have received Agile and Scrum training, but the situation remains the same.

Are Champions of Change

In our experience, one change agent isn’t enough – it needs to be an organization-wide commitment, driven by champions. These champions make positive change exciting and infectious. Invariably, as the company starts to see the needle move forward, the drive becomes stronger. The challenge is having the broad expertise and guidance to provide not only the strategic view of change, but the tactical roadmap of how to implement.

Understand the Problem is Hard to Fix (and Doesn’t Get Fixed Overnight)

Enterprises that truly wish to transform understand that it’s never just one small part of the organization that likely needs to improve. From the individual development teams and the cross functional teams, to the PMO and the very top management, all personnel must embrace and adopt a new way of doing business. Because of the reporting structures and functional ownership in large enterprises, companies also face the difficulty of gaining buy-in and consensus.

Know that a Mix of “Best-of-Breed” Methodologies is Needed

There are over 25 “methodologies” we have experience with, some better than others. Although Agile and Scaled Agile have gotten a lot of attention, many others can also be employed depending on an organization’s needs and challenges. We often encounter teams that received “Agile” training (often from different trainers, which creates issues in terms of consistency) but in the day-to-day, the Agile principles are not adhered to, shortcuts are taken, and many teams do not have the knowledge to know what is going wrong – or the right knowledge or tools to fix the issues.

See the Silos, and Haven’t been Successful in Cross-Pollination

Silos cause problems. During the course of engagement, we normally uncover both silos of expertise and vital information that would greatly benefit the wider organization. Often, the level of communication is so low that the vast majority of the organization is simply frustrated. Enabling a seamless flow of shared findings, methodologies, best practices and clear objectives is critical to moving the organization toward excellence.

Embrace the Concept of Continuous Improvement

Transformation does not actually have an end point; it’s not linear, but circular. There is always room to continue to improve. This is a fundamental philosophy of the approach that NeuEon drives. Even after we help achieve enormous strides forward, clients should (and do) continue to seek the next level of excellence, since we pass the expertise, knowledge and tools onto stakeholders to enable this continuous loop.

Value the Contribution of Objective, External Experts

General Eric Shinseki’s famous quote ‘If you don’t like change, you’re going to like irrelevance even less’ is compelling. Enterprises cannot stand still as the pace today is being set by upstarts. Disruption and innovation is not (and should not be) found only in small companies. The idea that large organizations can deliver predictable products, on time, on budget with unsurpassed quality built-in is the goal our clients set their sights on, and where we help them end up.

What changes will you make in 2017? Let’s connect.