No doubt – working the agile way is great. Organizations are steadily increasing their efforts in becoming agile and find themselves, now more than ever, redesigning their operating model, processes, and roles. However, some of them struggle to reach the desired agile maturity level as they step into typical pitfalls that prevent them from becoming real agile frontrunners. This article provides suggestions on how to avoid fake agile and work towards agile maturity.
“We have everything in place, we nominated a cross-functional team, we introduced the Scrum method and conducted agile events like daily standup, review, and retrospective. But it did not work out. The team seems unmotivated. What are we doing wrong?” Comparable situations are not unusual and entail a high risk that the invested efforts in becoming agile will not pay off. To avoid ending up in a status quo of doubt, frustration, or even agile immaturity, we provide four tips & tricks for your agile transformation.
1. Ensure Agile Is the Right Fit
The agile way of working has been around for twenty years and has gained in popularity tremendously in the last ten. Especially as traditional ways of working cannot keep up the pace of today´s world and are not flexible enough to adapt to ever-changing customer needs as well as innovation demands. Since the hype is very big, agile is often seen as a solution to everything; a lead time accelerator, innovation booster or a panacea to cure software development or project management problems. However, agile has its specific sphere of action and does not make sense everywhere. It unfolds its full potential especially in complex situations with a less prescriptive scope and high need for interaction with the customer. In short, ensure that you first analyze if the agile approach fits the context and goals of the planned initiative so that it can bring the desired benefits.
2. Fix the Mindset
In many organizations, agile methods are implemented without truly understanding the idea, core meaning and goals of agile. It is often seen as a trending topic, that is highly prioritized and implemented very fast. Often, traditional roles, processes and meetings are simply renamed with agile buzzwords which sound good but are far from being purposeful. Becoming and being agile does not mean to flip the switch from a traditional to an agile way of working overnight, it is rather about creating a lasting mindset that is based on certain agile values & principles. These values provide the core strength and stability of becoming agile, and feed the growth of the frameworks and practices that represent further enablers of the agile organizational transformation. So simply said, to make your agile transformation a success: fix the mindset before trying to implement the new approach.
3. Ensure Leadership Commitment
As we all know, leadership support directly affects culture, team involvement, and peoples´ motivation to change. This can be strengthened by having leadership actively focused on enablement, commitment and collaboration within agile teams. In agile working environments, the leadership factor is even more important. If leaders do not act as role models or do not see the benefits of the agile initiative, it would mean a serious setback for the entire transformation. To prevent that, involve and train your leaders and decision makers at an early stage and develop them into real ambassadors for the initiative. Ensure that they understand their new role and build up confidence in self-organized teams that can make their own decisions.
4. Build up Expertise and Avoid Role Conflicts
Finally, the lack of expertise in an organization means that agile can often not be fully realized. Ideally, organizations have experienced Agile Coaches, Change Agents, Scrum Masters, and Product Owners who combine their extensive functional and technical knowledge with an intrinsic motivation to drive a sustainable agile mindset and cultural shift. However, most organizations have not got the manpower and skills for the new roles and end up creating mixed roles. This ensures a certain experience level but ends up with a conflict of interest. Being aware of this means it can be managed and balanced out, start early in the hiring process of new team members, conducting a skill gap analysis to figure out where additional support is required and set the basis for high-quality, target-oriented collaboration.
In conclusion, preventing agile immaturity is possible, but the most important thing is to understand what it means to be agile, what the agile mindset is and at what stage your organization is in. Then throughout the transformation process, and after the implementation actively focus on cultivating agile. Enabled, committed leaders, and experts will ensure that agile maturity is attained.
Unsure about whether agile is the right fit for your initiative or what your current agile maturity state is? At CAMELOT, our experts carry out a comprehensive agile maturity assessment to see if you are on the right track and provide a tailored roadmap to mark the first steps of your successful transformation.