Using Agile To Scale Agile – Part 1

Ok, so you have either been experimenting with Agile and have had solid success or your leadership has read about or heard from their peers that this Agile thing is worth taking a look at.

Regardless there is considerable overlap between these two situations.

Let us go with the scenario where we have had several individual teams deliver value much more effectively than our other non-agile teams.  There is a general feeling in our leadership that we can enjoy the same type of improvements if we were to leverage Agile more broadly throughout our organization.

We have identified or created what we feel is a reliable process.  We have Standardized high-­level  process steps, deliverables, tools and artifacts. We have developed metrics for tracking progress and measuring the delivery of value.

So we’re ready to scale, right?  Maybe not… it looks like we might have a problem.

The problem is that our organizational structures, resource management approach, governance model, HR practices and other aspects of our business are all aligned for waterfall delivery. These types of misalignment call for possibly significant organizational changes.

 We have to ask ourselves, how skilled are we at planning and executing change management? 

So, where do we go from here?  Where do we seek help?

Why don’t we leverage what we’ve already learned with our initial Agile successes?  Use Agile to scale Agile.

Now if you will, imagine if our organization was to identify a vision for itself that was purposeful and inspiring, that our leadership has also provided a list of challenges to our teams that needed to be overcome to realize that vision. They then empowered the teams to solve the problem and the team themselves came upon Agile as a solution. 

Now that is the stuff of successful Agile Transformations… When the whole organization can carry the banner for change, it’s probability of success is much higher.

In my experience, unfortunately, most organizations are not in a position either structurally or behaviorally, or both,  to do this, so we’ll need a bit more traditional  leadership driven approach to using Agile to scale Agile.

This series of posts will explore using an Agile release model for tranforming our hypothetical organization to an Agile organization as is required to successfully scale agile principles and practices.

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About Mike DePaoli

Mike DePaoli has been contributing to the IT community for over two decades and practicing agile and lean approaches to software development since 1996 in roles from programmer to CTO. His evolved approach to crafting successful lean-agile software development organizations was forged by the meaningful challenges he undertook at prior employers and as an Agile Coach at companies such as eBay, Adobe Systems, AOL, NetApp, Disney, Boeing, EMC, and Trizetto. Mike’s area of expertise is helping organizations craft strategic change initiatives that educate on and establish agile and lean values, principles and practices at every tier of the organization. Mike applies systematic thinking with a multi-discipline approach to his work. Mike is a Certified SAFe Agilist, Certified Scrum Professional, Certified Scrum Master (CSM) and Certified Scrum Product Owner (CSPO). He is a highly-regarded speaker in the Agile community having spoken at Agile conferences in North America, South America and Europe. He is currently based in the San Francisco Bay Area.

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