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Path To Agility® Pt. 2

By David Hawks | May 19, 2016 |

Don’t forget to read part one of this blog series here: Path to Agility® Part 1.

Path to Agility Graphic with levels and stagesWhether it’s to improve quality, shorten time to market, or increase the customer value of the products delivered, there are many benefits to true, lasting organizational Agility. But there are many facets and steps an organization takes during their journey…after all, nothing worth having comes easy. In the last blog post, we covered the first two building blocks of Agility: align and learn. It’s time to discuss the next three: predict, accelerate, and adapt.

Predict

Like Old Faithful in the image, people know when to expect output, or predict

As teams get better after the practice period or the “Shu” stage, they can start to apply discipline and finesse at their chosen framework. They will start to get good and apply discipline to what they are doing. They are entering the “Ha” part of the ShuHaRi model. They are ready to get to done-done, potentially shippable product, and to do so in a consistent, predictable manner.

Being predictable means establishing a steady and reliable rhythm of delivery. Like Old Faithful in the above image, people know when to expect output. Making work visible and story point estimation is particularly important here. High visibility of work in progress gives teams and stakeholders a direct view into work status and early warning when surprises occur. Teams that cross-train develop the ability to help one another and absorb the inevitable unevenness from story to story and sprint to sprint. Story point estimation provides a measurement of the output.

New Practices

  • Decomposing work
  • Committing to sprint goals
  • Moving from a cooperation to collaborative work culture  
  • Investing in knowledge transfer and nurturing T-shaped workers

Accelerate

accelerating cheetah, accelerate stage comes after predictWe believe that you can’t optimize the team to go faster until they are predictable and consistent. But once they are, that’s when the fun begins…Accelerate.

Now we can focus on shortening time to market and how long it takes for the team to deliver. In order to do so, we look at the entire value stream, upstream and downstream, from the team.

What are the steps involved between a new request and deployment and how long do they take? When we’re looking at accelerating, we’re not getting the team to go faster as the sprint part of the process is short compared to the full steam. Rather, Agile coaches look to optimize other aspects that greatly impact time to market and work with the transformation leadership team formed in align to remove impediments. Examples include automated deployment and integration and regression testing.

New Practice

  • Value Stream Mapping
  • Value-based prioritization
  • Investing in improved technical practice (test automation, DevOps)
  • Impediment escalation and clearing
  • Code refactoring

Adapt

Hummingbird with Flower, adapting to environment, stage after predict and accelerate

Here, teams have become predictable and fast and have demonstrated a compelling, positive impact to the business. To make it to the next level of improvements, it is time to tackle broader organizational issues. In this phase, the value stream becomes a river. Agile coaches work with other departments outside of technology to identify opportunities that would help the organization to become truly Agile.

For example, coaches may look at how budgeting impacts technology. Or see if the ways performance reviews are conducted harm the newly collaborative and servant leadership mindset of teams? In order for an organization to truly be adaptable to change, the whole organization, the whole leadership, will need to adopt some of the Agile mindset and techniques. Other groups outside of technology–marketing, HR, operations– will start to implement Agile techniques like making work visible, daily standup, or working in sprint cycles or a kanban flow.

What the organization will find is that everything we have done in software really applies to knowledge work in general and they too will work at having an Agile mindset.

New Practices:

  • Partner with non-technology groups
  • Departments outside of tech will commit to understanding Agile and begin to implement techniques

Doing Agile and being Agile are related but they have two very different results. It’s easier to go through half the transformation process but your team and organization will not get the full benefits. If being Agile is truly your goal, remember to align and learn before you can become predictable, faster, and adaptive to changing environments.

 

Learn more about our proven transformation framework, Path to Agility. 

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