Designing a scale-driven Agile culture is a critical component of integrating an enterprise-wide Agile approach. When the people, the technologies and the processes are aligned towards a single methodology, an organization can function in a more streamlined manner.
From the design to the deployment, every stage is optimized when an enterprise opts to define its culture more closely to core Agile principles.
All stakeholders need to understand the collective value that Agile provides to the organization. While teams need to self-organize around critical projects, leadership must be present to guide developers in the right direction. This balance of structure and dynamic flexibility allows teams to become more aware of market shifts and the evolving nature of industry expectations.
The current state of Agile culture development
Organizations are increasingly viewing Agile as a comprehensive approach, rather than a team structure or software development methodology. Analysts at McKinsey & Co consider an Agile culture to be one of the greatest assets that an enterprise can have. However, there is a lot of development ahead for many organizations that are looking to reap the benefits of Agile.
The 13th Annual State of Agile report, by VersionOne, reflects many of the concerns of organizational teams. Culture is still considered a primary driver of enterprise-wide agility and isn’t fully leveraged across all enterprises. Organizations need to develop a coherent plan for their teams to imbibe Agile principles from the time that they are on-boarded into the company.
Leadership plays an important role here as well. Senior managers need to lead with Agile as their primary approach of management and oversight. By becoming dynamic and flat themselves, they introduce a sense of collaboration and agility into their teams as well. Companies need to find the right balance of hierarchies and open communication to maximize the potential of agile in 2019.
Designing the right framework
When it comes to building an enterprise agile network, it’s important to establish the right framework within the organization. Every member of the team must understand the various frameworks of communication, project management and deployment to be on the same page as the others.
Transparency is key
An enterprise-wide framework also introduces transparency into the system, while empowering employees at the same time. Transparency is an important aspect of the overall agile architecture as it allows all employees to be connected to one another. Channels become more open for exploration, while teams can interact with each other to learn more about their projects and protocols.
Transparency also allows all team members to analyse the impact of each component or feature. It enables greater communication between team members that want to contribute in their own way. Agile works best when different teams coalesce to form one dynamic organism.
Agile experts recommend that organizations focus on individuals and interactions rather than processes and tools. Agile works best when designed to remove any bottlenecks and problems that may arise from systematic communication. When companies remove hurdles from their business practices, they enable employees to make their own decisions in the field.
Researchers at CGI recommend that managers also remove bottlenecks by focusing more on the people, rather than the processes. By understanding the unique requirements of differentiated teams, each entity can be empowered in its own way.
Waste minimization as a process
Another key tenet to transforming your organizational culture is to focus on waste minimization. When organizations structure their teams to reduce waste of time, effort and resources, they emerge more agile. Designing the right framework takes into account enhancing the maximum utilization of the people working in the company.
An ideal approach to minimize waste is to drive focused experimentation and time-bound execution. This ensures that teams are only dedicating a fixed amount of time to a certain feature, implantation or bug, such that the results can be measured in a timely manner. It allows teams to become agile through the power of focused iteration and development.
Focus on values and principles
By having the right values and principles embedded into the culture of the organization, companies can create a more defined framework. Values of connectivity, engagement, transparency and innovation should be crafted into the mission statement of every entity within the firm.
Structural change requires a more hands–on approach, in which case having a fixed set of values becomes essential. Employees will emerge more collaboration-oriented, thereby creating new solutions to complex challenges. Having a strong manifesto, that resembles that of an Agile philosophy, can be an effective tool to design the right framework.
Managing the transition effectively
One of the main strategies to create transformational change within an Agile organization is to focus on managing that change effectively. The entire organization needs to move towards an Agile mindset, rather than just having isolated teams focus on the methodology. When the entire company is on-board with the program, it makes for each integrated unit to become more agile automatically.
This helps in cutting down costs in terms of training, development and team management. Senior leaders can set dynamic targets and guide their teams through change effectively. Managing the change in a consistent manner is the key to creating long-lasting change within the organization. While many employees will require retraining and integration sessions, each entity can focus on their team members and align them with Agile practices.
Coaching is a critical tool that can be leveraged when managing enterprise change. It can allow employees to become more Agile-focused when dealing with different scenarios in the workplace. Managers can create a pathway for each of their team members, with milestones to accomplish by certain timelines. This can help members become better acquainted with Agile practices while introducing innovation into each process.
Technology as a tool for empowerment
Technology should always be used as a tool to empower teams within the organization. Tools, systems and platforms shouldn’t create additional challenges for employees to overcome. By leveraging the right set of technological principles, organizations can connect distributed teams around the enterprise structure.
Technology also helps in aligning teams towards the project better. It can create a more comprehensive platform on which all team members can share bugs, insights, analysis and new projects that they’re working on. When leveraged correctly, technology can help the team remain on-task while being agile in their approach through the development lifecycle.
As technology enhances each aspect of the Agile enterprise, including backlog management, MVP design, and sprints mapping, team members become more accustomed to Agile practices. This enables them to take initiatives themselves when it comes to incorporating Agile deeper into the organization.
Technology also allows the organization to create a fundamental shift in the culture of the organization. It enables teams to become more purpose-driven in their approach. With the introduction of technology into the enterprise, companies can focus on scale-driven incorporation of Agile methodologies. It can shape the structure of the organization in a more meaningful way while empowering employees every step of the way.
Shaping expectations from teams
Agile allows team members to shape expectations in the right way. It creates a more structured framework around what each member is aiming to accomplish while building towards a more refined picture. This allows teams to build an Agile culture from within, while still remaining focused on the client’s overall objectives.
A development project can be shipped from one team to another and be executed the same way by leveraging Agile best practices. Additionally, teams with the right expectations can chart the development cycle consistently regardless of what project is being incorporated. When the right expectations are set within the organization, all members of all teams fall in line with the principles of Agile.
As Agile begins to take shape within the organisation, middle managers, senior leaders and end-level employees need to transform their way of thinking about development and project management. This enterprise-wide change can only be executed when the right expectations are set in place. By having the right KPIs measuring real change within the organization, employees can be incentivized to become more Agile when designing new solutions.
Building new capabilities
A critical piece in the Agile structure is having the right capabilities. This means hiring the right talent, designing the right processes, and integrating the right technological innovations within the organization. Building new capabilities is one of the best ways to design a more effective Agile culture in 2019.
When organizations have a well-defined “North Star”, they need to have the right systems in place to ensure that they’re able to accomplish their objectives. By having consultants on board, organizations can build new capabilities organically within their structure. Each individual team becomes empowered when they have Agile team members working within them.
Through the power of rapid prototyping, training and on-site coaching, companies can develop talent in-house and shorten the learning cycle for all members within the team. They can shape passionate individuals within the organization who are focused on bringing innovative solutions to the forefront every day. Building new capabilities is one of the premier ways to build a sustainable Agile enterprise culture.