Key Insights To Gain Before Starting Your Agile Transformation
via LeadingAgile by Tim Zack
What does your organization value most, predictability or adaptability? Identifying the direction you lean between these two can offer important insights you’ll use when embarking on your journey to Agile Transformation. No matter where you fall in this spectrum, knowing where you are now is key in choosing the right path to get where you want to be.
In this video, you’ll hear why it’s important to know your organization’s values before starting a successful Agile Business Transformation and how that insight can help you achieve real Agility.
This sort of trade off between predictability and flexibility or adaptability. When we think about organizations, one of the challenges for us as a consulting organization is when we engage with any particular company, we have to identify what that company values and what they’re trying to be as well as what environment they’re in. Because that’s going to influence how they do product management. What are the things that they emphasize within a roadmap? How you engage and what you think about it. You can think about organizations that value predictability, right? Think about regulatory compliance, systems of record, developing identity databases. These are things where you don’t expect there to be a lot of change in what you’re trying to accomplish. And so your goal as an organization is to make and meet your commitments. When we’ve got large numbers of teams, we have to orchestrate and coordinate work across those teams.
And so we have to be able to be predictable in terms of when we’re going to deliver. We have to be able to coordinate who’s going to deliver which piece of the pie in the context of which features are getting built. How do we make sure we build everything that we need to deliver an Epic? When we’re in an organization that biases more towards adaptability, the way we’re going to interact, the way we’re going to do our planning is a little bit different. Kevin talked about having a 12 month rolling roadmap. You update it every quarter, right? That’s sort of an adaptable kind of model than an annual planning cycle. How many of you guys have an annual planning cycle and so 14 months ago is when you decided what your teams are working on this December, right? That’s more on the predictable side of things, right?
The organization is saying we value making and meeting our commitment. How many of you guys think you’re there? We have an organization that values predictability, but we don’t know at the start of the year everything we’re going to do in the year, right? Our stuff we’re doing right now in December, how perfectly does it match what you guys thought it was going to be 14 months ago? You’ve changed, right? Some of your requirements in emerge, so everybody leading agile works with is sort of starting out here and looking for help. So that’s part of the spin of my framing of the Agile roadmapping and the whole universe of all the different ways you can roadmap. It’s “what do you have to think about depending on where your organization is and what they value?” And I’m going to frame in terms of sort of an agile transformation and a journey of how LeadingAgile does it so that I can talk to those sort of base camps.
We use the metaphor of expeditions and going on journeys to get from where you are in the sort of chaos mode of I value predictability, but what I’m required to do keeps changing on it. Keep pulling the rug out from under me. So the first thing you want to do is stabilize the system and become predictable. Once you’ve done that, you have the opportunity to start working in smaller batch sizes. Predictability helps coordinate, helps you deliver more effectively, helps you manage expectations of your stakeholders and your customers and your partners, it helps you put product in market. Whether or not you make better choices about what the product should be. You’re now at least reliably doing what you planned to do. But What those faster cycles do is give you opportunities to learn. Every time you’ve got an iteration, you have an opportunity to learn.
There’s feedback that comes from within the system that informs your strategy and there’s feedback that comes from your markets and your customers, it tells you you’re solving the wrong problem. You have a bad approach to how you’re solving the problem. What you did didn’t solve the problem good enough, I’m not even the right customer for you, right? All of these sources of feedback you can learn as you go and adapt your plan. So we start to move more predictable from more predictable to more adaptable. We want to take advantage of these opportunities to change what we’re choosing to do.
The next barrier to making those changes is sort of decoupling the systems, right? We can, we can abstract and decouple the teams. What that allows us to do is not only move faster but have greater degrees of flexibility in terms of the directions we can change and move into. The next place we can get to is around building on the trust that we get from repeatedly delivering more and more valuable things because the feedback loops and the ability to respond in theory course course-correct as to things that are more valuable, gives us the opportunity to delegate permission further down in the organization from VPs to directors to product managers to say, this is a problem we need to solve. Go figure out the right way to solve it. We don’t need you to come back here and say, here’s our recommendation. And then ultimately we get to the lean startup model, which is go forth and do stuff that’s in alignment with the vision of the company, right? This is where teams are essentially funded as teams and given a charter to go figure out the problems they should be solving.