8 Best Practices For Successful Agile Adoption
In this post, Cloud Consultant, John Clarke, suggests 8 best practices that will help you transform into a more agile, adaptable organisation.
The long term success of agile implementation and a move to an adaptable organisation will be largely based on an organization's culture as well as the method of implementation.
If you want to succeed in your agile transformation here are some important measures you can take that should get the ball rolling for your organization:
1. Enterprise-wide commitment
A successful implementation requires an enterprise-wide commitment from leadership and business functions. This transformation is not just about technology and its impact will be felt beyond your IT organization. First and foremost, a top-down statement of intent must kick off the journey and assert that the benefits of agile transformation will only be seen if the entire business is pulling together in the same direction and to a common purpose.
2. Customised, measured and incremental implementation
Implementations of Agile and its frameworks should be customised, measured and incremental
Experiment and find which methods work for your teams. Be honest and learn from your failures, double down on your successes and don’t change too much at once. Try to avoid falling into the trap of ‘wagile’ - trying to implement both waterfall and agile practices at the same time.
What works in other organizations might not work for you. Have a clear idea of what you would like to achieve with this transformation and find the best route to get your organization there.
Find out more about the pitfalls of a 'wagile' approach by listening to our CxO roundtable podcast on adaptable organizations.
3. Reduce dependencies
Successful scaling is dependent on reducing the dependencies between teams. In the technical backlog, domain knowledge, and software itself (support efficient releases).
Most agile scaling frameworks seek to manage these dependencies as an organisation scales, but to be truly adaptable we should look to remove dependencies, reducing the complexity and enabling agility. Cross-functional teams is one approach to reducing integration points traditionally created by functional teams and therefore reducing the amount of dependencies.
4. Product ownership
Encourage autonomy and empowerment of delivery teams across all elements of delivery (sourcing business requirements, design and implementation).
Leadership should provide a framework and OKRs (or similar) for value to be realised, then the teams themselves should own the roadmap, how they deliver and sharing success. This also gives teams the opportunity to form (or swarm) around a problem or field of interest dynamically (owning the solution from end-to-end,) supporting what they build and run.
5. Business/IT alignment
Only support initiatives where business people take active responsibilities on agile teams - and agile delivery teams are fully engaged in the business drivers
By ensuring the business works closely with IT, breaking down the traditional silos, you can ensure a constant cycle of building, testing and deploying product. This helps enable rapid delivery and iteration that is completely in line with business objectives. Importantly there is a shared sense of responsibility for the business outcomes.
6. Bold leadership
Leaders need to embed a mindset of risk-taking and lead by example by being bold in decision making. Transformation is difficult and you need to be comfortable with failing fast and iterating to overcome obstacles. Psychological safety is an important principle to consider in any leadership conversations, to help ensure open, honest, succinct feedback and clarify accountability.
7.Partner with experts...
If your organization is struggling with the last point then don’t hesitate in bringing in experts or coaches who can help you overcome your challenges. Maybe you are struggling to map out new processes? Maybe you can’t quite figure out where the roles and responsibilities should fit in your evolving team? Maybe you just can’t talk about the things that need to be talked about? All of these are solvable problems and delaying their solution only wastes your time.
8. Consider the ripple effect…
Always be mindful of the wider impacts of your transformation. The impact of your journey to being an adaptable, agile organisation will ripple out from your IT teams, into other departments like Human Resources, Finance, Procurement, and Legal etc. If your whole business isn’t aligned with the changes your organization is making, then it risks having a disruptive effect that will slow your transformation progress.