Dec 08, 2020

The reality of Agile

With the prevalence of available agile methods and techniques, increasing numbers of organisations are looking to adopt agility into their work practices – a trend that has been increasing over the last several years, and as reported in publications including the World Quality Report.

With this, there are obvious and apparent challenges being observed, not least of which is the apparent increase in hybridisation approaches – a confluency of waterfall whole of organisation with incremental introduction of agile practices. Whilst this may appear to be a ‘best way forward’ approach to transition, in particular for larger organisations, without careful planning and executive-level (i.e. top-down) stakeholder commitment to whole of business change, what you can end up with is the worst of both worlds.

One major area of concern that Innovo consistent observes is the prevalence of misconceptions around agility and perceived benefits. Agile, for better or worse, has now become a marketable (and therefor a marketing and selling) term, with corresponding issues with the substance of what is actually being offered. The term ‘Agile’ has almost become a doctrinarian term, sparking arguments between methods and models in absence of underlying analysis of best fit and needs for an organisation.

The lack of in-depth understanding of Agile, and the prevalent misconceptions on what Agile is, does, and delivers, can lead to significant impacts.

Putting aside the minutiae of process activities, Agile at its heart needs to be thought of as a different approach to delivering organisational outcomes. A few points to note include:

· You still need to plan and document – planning is critical to Agile; the primary difference in the Agile approach is for less ‘up-front’ plans and documents, and increased focus on incremental

· Agile is not inherently “faster” than other methods per se – however, you can obtain an increased velocity through its utilisation of continuous communication & feedback loops…in effect being more efficient

· Agile can be utilised for more than just I.T.

· A major mindset change is required in adjusting from traditional top-down command & control structures to that of Agile self-organisation…getting the balance right on this is critical for Agile success

· Get help. Really! When considering embarking on Agile you need to be aware of the effects this will have for the whole of your organisation. This needs to be planned just like any major transformational exercise and having partners who have undertaken this before successfully can make all the difference to the level of Agile adoption success.