Thursday, September 15, 2011

Agile is Commando Culture, not Commando Gear

Very few large organizations in the world today have been able to understand and harvest Agile to their competitive advantage.

They more often end up chasing the blind Agile Rat Race, with the "me too" slogan, retrofitting it into fighting terrorists with traffic constables in commando gear supervised by bureaucrats.

Building the right ecosystem, culture and work environment that can enable build true Agile Capability is the most difficult proposition.

When I say a true Agile Capability, it should be capable of producing results that resemble value innovation from the likes of products from Apple and a work culture/ work environment for people as in the likes of Google.

Agile is "Commando Culture", not "Commando Gear".

Monday, January 24, 2011

Agile Transition Roadmap for larger Organizations

We need newer Agile Vehicles to enable larger organizations effectively migrate to Agile, incrementally and iteratively.

I have had similar experiences when trying to help larger organizations transition to Agile. I had found that the primary lacunae that surfaces first in the teams is their inability to build software in the incremental and iterative mode using the right engineering practices like Incremental Architecture, Evolving Design, TDD, Continuous Integration, Automated Testing and Continuous Refactoring.

This has nothing to do with Agile, but is a core prerequisite competency to get into the IID mode of software development that agile methodologies mandate.

Here is the sequential road-map that worked for me with many large customers helping them migrate to Agile:

First Destination for the Agile Vehicle:

Get teams build competencies in IID Engineering Practices as mentioned above. This is the preliminary ab-initio "Shu" stage competency needed for everyone trying to build software in the IID mode. Their management style can continue to be formal and traditional at this stage.

Second Destination for the Agile Vehicle:

Once the IID engineering competency is achieved by the organization, introduce the concepts of Critical Chain Project Management (CCPM) to enable them understand how to shrink cycle times and work towards continuous improvements using TOC. Their management style slowly migrates to a systems approach to continuous improvement. Cutter had a few years ago, published my experience report on this.

Third Destination for the Agile Vehicle:

The teams now understand how to handle complexities, individual capabilities and unpredictabilities in the way we build software. They also understand the vagaries of estimation and adaptive planning. They are now ready to be introduced to shifting their business focus from focusing on efficiency(costs) to focusing on Value (customer).

Introduction to Lean Values and Principles here makes perfect sense and the Lean Engineering Concepts now get integrated into their way of working. Organization now focuses on how to anticipate, understand meet and exceed Customer (user) Value Expectations (and perceptions). Their organizational business policies change for the better.

Fourth Destination for the Agile Vehicle:

The organization is now introduced to the concept of Performance Management in the Knowledge Industry. The "Y" Theory for people management. We enable organizations flatten their hierarchies, invert their pyramid structure, restructure their way of working in teams rather than individual roles to finally result in the entire organization working through coordinated and empowered clusters of self-organizing cross functional teams with reward systems promoting collective ownership in teams. This makes the productivity and profitability of the organization visible and tangible.

Fifth Destination for the Agile Vehicle:

The organization now is ready for embracing the true Values and Principles of Agile. Their Business Policies now are oriented towards collaboration (not contract). Their Planning and Execution now are oriented towards being Adaptive. Their People are now enjoying working in Teams with collective ownership. They now need to understand how to leverage this further by focusing on Mutual Trust, Transparency in their relationships with their customers and how to actively collaborate with customers iteratively to accelerate co-creation of Value.

They should now be in their "Ha" stage of learning. Over time, with consistent innovation and improvement, the organizations can now aim to mature to the "Ri" stage.

This done, to my mind, is Agile Accomplished.