Post 1 of 4 –
Here are our business objectives for the year: top management has decided to increase the employees’ efficiency and to reduce the budget allocated to the different projects. Given the limitations of the “waterfall” approach we are currently using, I decided to ask people around me if they had any idea how to do things differently. An old schoolmate from university talked to me about Agile approaches. The company where he is working as VP transitioned to Agility a few years ago, and they are achieving great results. I would like to find out more about Agility. Maybe it could help me reach—or exceed—my annual objectives?
However, my friend warned me: Agile approaches require important changes. He also said that it is better to be guided during any transition to Agility. In fact, his company called on consultants of Pyxis Technologies to coach them on all aspects (i.e. organizational, human, and technological). Therefore, I decided to call Pyxis to learn more about these “miracle” approaches.
During our first meeting with Pyxis’ consultants, we worked to understand the real expectations of top management regarding this Agile change. The consultants also indicated that Agility was not a “magical” solution…that it required many important organizational changes. I’m puzzled by this statement. Why are organizational changes required when what we only want is to improve work in our development teams?!?! It’s like if the garageman listed a full list of mechanical problems, while I only took my car in to get the muffler fixed!
Assisted by Carole, our organizational coach, I recommended Agility to the executive committee. Interested in the benefits provided by Agility, we decided to go forward with it and implement an Agile approach. To have an overview of the company’s context, the consultants performed an organizational diagnostic. In their report, they listed both the strengths and weaknesses of the organization that facilitate or constrain the adoption of Agility. Certain weaknesses concern the management style, that is a little too directive, as well as our culture, where the right to make mistakes is lacking. Hum! That’s something we will not be able to change overnight. It’s during the presentation of the diagnostic’s results to the executive committee that I realized that Agile approaches were not only applicable to software development; they are also a way of being. The foundation of Agility relies on collaboration, capacity to question and evaluate ourselves and what we do (continuous improvement), and self-organization. It’s during the presentation that I saw the full potential of Agility which builds on human before processes. In fact, Agility not only requires changes in our processes and methodologies, it also requires changing our organizational behaviors.
Before beginning the transition, we established our vision regarding the implementation of Agility, our objectives, the risks and our conditions of success related to this transformation. These strategic items will serve as benchmarks throughout the transformation and orient our decisions. After discussing with Carole, we decided to implement Agility using a sequential approach. We will begin with the execution of a first Agile project (pilot project), followed by a second one, etc., with a frequency that will foster learning, adaptation, and proper change management.
But what project should we begin with? Pyxis’ consultants recommended to choose a project without too many risks, but that is complex enough to demonstrate the value of the approach being implemented. Thus, we chose a project meeting these criteria. We have a team who is “dedicated” to the project. The team is supported by a team coach. They began their sprint of preparation (sprint 0). For now, the team seems quite motivated and appreciates the approach that has been chosen.
On my side, with our high expectations for this year, I am anxious to see if this “miracle” solution will allow us to walk the talk. I’ll keep you posted…