Embedding Agile: Top 10 Tricks

Embedding Agile: Top 10 Tricks

Insights | 13 February 2018

So… you’ve decided to implement agile into your organisation, you’ve received your freshly minted certification and you’re excited about the transformative impact you’ve heard about…

What next?

Based on our experience here are some tips, tricks and best practice approaches that can help steer your transformation to success, deliver expected benefits and make the kind of impact that was hoped for.

  1. Be Situationally Aware

Agile is an umbrella term for a growing collection of frameworks, approaches, methods and principles – all of which have their relative strengths when applied in the correct context. The context, however, is often lost where a specific flavour of framework is added or grafted on to an organisation without understanding whether it is appropriate for the environment. Be aware of where your pain points are and apply the right framework or hybrid approach to address them.

  1. Go Beyond Frameworks

A framework by itself, whether it be Scrum, AgilePM®, SAFe®, Nexus, XP or anything else is not all of agile. These methodologies only help support agile and agility principles. Yes, frameworks can be an important element of your overall strategy, but it is not the only element. Agility extends to everything that an organisation does, from the way it structures its teams, the way it engages with the market, the way it sets and prioritises strategy, and the way it creates its culture. Be prepared to look at the broader picture, don’t get too focussed on the framework.

  1. Go Beyond Technology

Traditionally, most agile initiatives have been born, lived and died entirely within IT, technology or digital departments of an organisation. Whilst this has been where a lot of the agile frameworks were developed, the transformative value to the host organisation was only contained to one part of the business. It was only when these frameworks were scaled outside of their ‘home’ that many failed. Agile principles need to be applied to every part of an organisation to reach a state of Business Agility.

  1. Start with a Bold Vision

All too often, the vision and benefits of transforming to an agile operating model is lost down in the weeds – it becomes limited in scope to the practitioners in the delivery teams and as a result the transformation struggles to scale up. Start big, be bold and define what a true enterprise-wide, agile organisation looks like. Plant that flag on the hill and get everyone aligned behind the end goal.

  1. Engage Leaders

True Business Agility is a transformative initiative that involves cultural change and a shift in the strategic capabilities of the whole organisation. Bottom-up transformations can only impact strategy and culture to a limited degree. True cultural change needs to start at the top, with engaged, informed and involved leaders who drive the transformation. The most successful changes are those who combine both top-down and bottom-up approaches.

  1. People First

At their core, agile and agility principles are all about people. It is about collaboration between individuals, teams, programmes, portfolios, departments and entire organisations. A framework and a process by itself is not going to make your organisation agile – you need to start with your greatest asset – your people. Changing mindsets, culture and the way the teams approach their work is not easy, but this is where the biggest focus needs to be.

  1. Create an Agile Mindset

As a corollary to the above, to mature towards organisational or business agility you need to foster an Agile Mindset. A mindset that is focussed not on output and project delivery, but one that is focussed on outcomes and value delivery. This mindset considers their customer first, is comfortable to fail fast and foster learning and can think more like a venture capitalist and less like a regulatory auditor.

  1. Use Agile to Implement Agile

The Agile mindset is a learning mindset. It is based on setting up a hypothesis, building, testing, measuring and learning. The way in which you implement and rollout your agile transformation should be no different – and is in fact both the best way to implement and the best way to learn and instil the foundations of agility. Don’t try and change everything overnight, agile is not a binary state, but is an infinitely graded spectrum upon which an organisation moves. Start small, learn and grow as you mature along this journey.

  1. Split and Seed

A tried and tested approach to rolling out agile, and one that fits in well with using agile principles, is to split and seed your teams. Start with a high-potential team, design and implement an appropriate flavour of agile for them and work with them to become rock stars. When they reach that point, split the team and seed your stars into other teams to spread the knowledge. Before long, your agile transformation will become self-replicating.

  1. Ask for help

Don’t ever feel that you’re alone in this new agility frontier. Whilst every organisation will have its own set of unique issues, quirks and culture, there are invariably other organisations that have or are going through similar challenges. PM-Partners group have worked with numerous organisations who are each on their own agile journey and we can help provide the insights, support and resources you need to help you on your journey.

Contact our Agility Practice to find out how we can help on your Agile Transformation. +65 6818 5771.

The APMG-International AgilePM is a trade mark of The APM Group Limited. AgilePM is a registered trade mark of the Agile Business Consortium Limited. All rights reserved. Scaled Agile Framework and SAFe are registered trademarks of Scaled Agile, Inc.
About The Author

Matt Sharpe, Agile Principal Consultant and Practice Lead

Matt is our Agile Principal Consultant and Practice Lead, with significant experience in advisory and consulting, strategic transformation, project, programme and portfolio management. Matt is a Certified Scrum Professional, with over 15 years’ experience working in the Agile space across Europe, The US, Asia, the Middle East and Australia.

Matt has worked at all levels of project delivery in both Waterfall and Agile modes ranging from single sprint deliverables through to multi-year agile portfolios exceeding $100m, as well as the design, planning, execution and management of agile transformations and capability uplifts in several organisations and industries across the world.

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