What exactly is Agile transformation?
Agile is one of those words that is thrown around business these days and watered down until it isn’t clear what it is or how it works. It is tempting to label anything vaguely agile as an agile way of working. You may have seen this for yourself.
So, what exactly is agile transformation? How does it work? And what are the benefits of it? That’s what we’ll look to determine in this article.
Traditional organisations are typically built on a strict structural hierarchy and stick to rigid methodology. Agile is the opposite of that. Agile organisations operate in rapid decision-making cycles based around a common purpose. They learn and grow with new data, and decisions lie outside the hierarchy and instead with the teams who know best.
This gives them speed without risk, and data-driven adaptability.
The agile way of working doesn’t really work unless it’s organisational wide. It’s a culture, an atmosphere, a set of principles embedded within the organisation. This way of working allows for continuous collaboration and improvement at every stage, smaller feedback loops, and a product or service built quickly, but through the frequent collection of data and critique from ongoing commentary.
Through constant planning, execution and evaluation, teams meet their objectives.
Agile is continuous collaboration between team members and project stakeholders for a better way of working that drives real results.
The main components of Agile
Agile was created in 2001 and its four main values are:
- individuals and interactions over processes and tools,
- working software over documentation,
- customer collaboration over contract negotiation,
- responding to change over following a plan.
Agile transformation involves scrapping what we think we know about everything, tossing aside traditionally rigid ways of working, and instead constantly learning and responding to the information we’re given.
This is the absolute best way to develop a product or service that does exactly what you need it to and, if you’re using Agile as you should be, you’ll find it transforms the way you work.
Structure, people, technology and processes
Agile isn’t just about creating products and services, it’s about transforming your way of working across four key areas; structure, people, technology, and processes. Short feedback loops across these four areas will help you transform your organisation and the way you work.
Comprehensive Agile transformation
There are four parts to Agile transformation; the people, processes, technology, and structure. All four elements should be developed to achieve true Agile transformation.
There are three ways to achieve this. The bottom-up approach is probably the most common because it feels like small change over time; a gradual evolution of an organisation and its ways of working. Going all in is difficult but preferable, as the benefits of Agile can begin almost immediately. Lots of organisations instead of a more strategic approach, where agile is introduced in key areas first and then rolled out across the company.
Some organisations are born Agile, particularly with the tech industry. This is in part because they know they must respond quickly to changing markets and the needs of their consumers, and Agile is the best way to do this. It’s a permanent loop of learning, evaluation and adaptation, and a way of working that lends itself well to the sector.
An iterative approach to development
A big part of Agile is the iterative approach it takes. Iterative refers to the repetitive nature of agile development, relating specifically to the repetition of planning, executing and then evaluating. It is important that you recognise there is no real structure to these three elements. Agile is all about reacting as and when it’s needed.
Organisations should forget their traditional ideas around end-goals and objectives. A culture of learning and adaptation should be adopted at all levels and regarding all aspects of the company.
Where do we start with Agile transformation
As we’ve said, Agile is a way of working, but it’s also a culture. It won’t really work unless its principles are embedded across your teams, processes, tech, and company structure. Agile is undermined by strict processes and assumptions. It’s a flexible way of learning and adaptation. Done right, it will lead to growth in the right direction.
Your richest source of information when it comes to Agile are your people. Their feedback is going to be of paramount importance, because you are going to evaluate and react to it as quickly as possible, whether they’re a consumer or a team member.
Undoubtedly, the key to Agile transformation depends on adoption at the top. Your leadership teams must understand what Agile is, and the benefits of it.
The difference between Agile adoption and Agile transformation
Agile adoption is the act of adopting the Agile method of working and putting it into effect on what might be a one project basis. For example, your organisation might adopt a popular Agile framework and deploy it across a particular development project by incorporating the Agile way of working into the workload.
This is difficult to do. As we’ve said, because of its nature, Agile works best when the organisation is transformed and everyone is onboard.
Agile transformation completely changes the way work is done, and these changes should be blueprinted. Your blueprints need to identify changes to people, processes, and technology, and you should adopt Agile principles whilst developing it; create it quickly, invite feedback, evaluate, and adapt.
Part of the Agile way of working includes creating ‘teams’ or ‘cells’ based on outcomes or missions instead of actions and capabilities.
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