Key Factors for Major Agile Transformation Success

Since time immemorial, many Agile skeptics have dismissed the idea of Agile transformation. They have been proven wrong umpteen times. 

Major Agile Transformation success stories may look like a fairytale but they are possible. It is dependent on two things, your culture and the leadership that backs it. 

History has been witness to organizations who have experienced a massive turnaround thanks to certain fixes. 

But, what exactly is Agile Transformation?

gile Transformation: Understanding What it Means to be Agile

Agile Transformation is assimilating change in an organization’s structure by implementing the agile principles present in the Agile Manifesto. These principles propagate flexibility, speed, collaboration, communication, and cross-functional arrangements. 

Here are 5 factors that are responsible for driving major Agile Transformation success.

  • Fix the Culture: 

Culture is the major factor when it comes to agile transformation. The reception, whether positive or negative, towards an agile methodology, determines the outcome.

The 15th State of Agile Survey reported that 43% of the respondents believed that agile values faced stiff resistance from organizational culture. The scaling agile frameworks can only assist you. 

The change starts from having an Agile mindset. The holy book of Agile Manifesto has 12 principles and the Agile mindset must stem from them.

They prioritize relationships, collaboration, teamwork, transparency, self-organization, and learning. Agile transformation isn’t overnight and is empirical. It is based on facts and observation rather than theory. 

The answer is Developing an Agile culture. 

The answer is a 5 step process- 

  • Endorse and practice agile values with resilient leadership
  • Assist teams and stakeholders to self organize 
  • Handle your portfolio with outcomes and not outcomes 
  • Strategically remove sources of waste and hurdles agile teams face
  • Measure and enhance the value delivered with frequent feedback
  • Embrace Agile mindset and its key facets  

Agile transformation precedes agile culture which in turn precedes Agile mindset. Developing an Agile mindset starts with identifying the departmental culture that works in silos. 

Two C’s form the core of the Agile mindset- Collaboration and Communication. Your agile mindset will remain feeble if there is no seamless collaboration and communication. 

A leadership team should be formed that will be responsible to coach their teams to espouse change. An Agile mindset is developed when teams work in tandem thereby self-organizing themselves. They pave the way for collaboration and communication for accomplishing a common goal. 

As per the 15th State of Agile Survey, 41% of the respondents opined that lack of leadership participation was one of the challenges in Agile adoption. 

A crucial chunk of Agile transformation involves assigning roles and responsibilities to keep the team organized. Here are a few activities that keep you en route to developing an Agile mindset- 

  • Conducting regular meetings like standups, retrospectives, backlog refinements, etc. 
  • Exceptional leadership should be displayed so that things don’t stray off course. Leaders should facilitate and course correct if need be. 
  • Seek Agile Coaching 

The help of an Agile Coach is needed to help organizations who have little to no idea of the agile frameworks. Agile coaches help educate organizations about the different frameworks and their uses. 

The benefits of seeking help from an Agile Coach include- 

  • Actionable application 

An in-house Agile coach will ensure that teams in an organization pick up the learnings and apply them. Since they are present on-site, they need to get the ball rolling to achieve agile transformation. 

  • Create a Transition Backlog 

Agile transformation begins with the need to create a transition backlog. The transition backlog may look like jargon but it isn’t. 

Let us explain. 

A Transition backlog is a list of work items crafted by an Agile coach to start the Agile transformation. It could also contain things needed to improve the current Agile process. 

It can include hiring key positions such as Certified Scrum Master and Product Owner, forming teams, providing training, and acquiring and configuring tools. 

  • Unbiased Intentions 

Coaches without any vested interests or biases against an organization always  provide the best coaching. Since they hold no grudge, their mentoring comes from an unbiased point of view. 

  • Helping Hand 

Online Video tutorials don’t offer the same experience that face-to-face sessions with an Agile coach would otherwise. 

Online tutorials can leave you stuck. In-office Agile coaches will help at every step of the process. With their help, you will get a grip on the process. 

  • Diverse Experience 

Seasoned Agile Coaches have helped organizations to undergo Agile transformations. Their professional record boosts working with organizations that had complex challenges, culture, and working environments. 

So, they would have necessarily gone beyond the book. Whenever, your organization is faced with an insurmountable challenge, obstructing Agile transformation. 

  • Developing an Agile Transformation Roadmap

A successful Agile transformation requires creating the Agile Transformation Roadmap that is pragmatic. It will help you set realistic objectives and goals that will ensure you are on the right path.

The Agile Transformation Roadmap creation is a 4 step process- 

  • Formulating the end goal 

Introspect the state of affairs in your organization. Assess the cultural and technological scenario.  After the evaluation, you can decide the vision or the end goal. Your leadership skills will be vital in leading the organization towards Agile transformation 

  • Timeframes that lists realistic milestones and the complete overhaul 

The most often asked question is ‘How long does it take for the transformation?’ 

The answer isn’t sugar-coated. It can take anywhere between 1-2 years because things that have manifested over the years can’t be set right in days or months. 

Small changes in the organization’s culture will lead to major transformation and this is a marathon and not a sprint. Splitting larger goals into smaller chunks will ensure that the transformation process is streamlined. 

  • Replacing traditional teams with cross-functional teams 

Traditional working structures work in silos and they all deviated from the common goal. The formation of cross-functional teams ensures that all teams are aligned towards the same goal. 

17% of the respondents stated minimal collaboration and lack of pairing to one of the Agile adoption challenges. 

The benefits of having cross-functional teams are many- 

  • Amplified creativity for greater problem solving 
  • Speedy completion of work without compromise in quality 
  • Helps employees aligned towards organizational goals
  • Summarize Objectives and Key Results (OKRs)

Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) is a collaborative goal-setting method used by organizations to set challenging and ambitious goals with measurable results. 

OKRs help you articulate objectives, help track and measure progress thus building a result-focused culture. It contains objectives and metrics. 

Benefits of Agile Transformation 

The road to Agile transformation can be long and exhausting but small wins will boost your morale. 

Here are the benefits of Agile transformation that will witness soon- 

  • Faster time to market 
  • A robust organizational culture where employees are intrapreneurs and self-organized 
  • Freedom to add changes without disturbing the entire product development lifecycle 
  • Synchronization and harmony among product owners, scrum masters, and the development team 

How would you know that your Agile Transformation success has been a roaring success? 

“We do have metrics” 

But what are they? 

Let’s go through all the metrics one by one. 

For a desirable ROI, measure the benefits of the agile culture at the start point, midpoint, and the endpoint. 

  • Cycle Time 

Cycle Time is a metric to measure team productivity. It is the time taken from the start of production to the finished output. 

  • Escaped Defect Rate  

Escaped Defect Rate is a metric that tracks quality and customer satisfaction. The lower the escaped defect rate, the higher the customer satisfaction rate. The escaped defects are determined by bugs and defects. 

  • Planned to Done Ratio 

The Planned-to-Done ratio measures predictability. It is the ratio of work the team commits to undertake and the work that is actually completed at the end of the sprint. 

  • Agile Maturity 

Agile maturity refers to the number of sprints undertaken to produce functioning and tested products

  • Business Value 

Business Value is a metric that displays the number of user stories that the teams produce over sprint cycles.

Wrapping Up 

AgileTransformation success is a marathon that requires meticulous planning. It is destined for failure without a methodical approach. It begins with fixing the existing culture, inculcating an agile culture where agile leadership and agile values are omnipresent. 

All of this is just the beginning. 

Adopting an Agile mindset, undergoing Certified Agile Coaching, and charting an agile transformation roadmap form a larger part of the journey. In the end, you measure the progress using metrics, if successful, you reap the benefits jubilantly. 

Having gone through the entire blog post, what do you think about the key factors responsible for major agile transformation success? 

Drop your thoughts in the comments. 

Author Bio_________________________________________________

Naveen Kumar Singh is an Agile Coach and a Professional Scrum Trainer (PST), facilitates Scrum Master Training, Scrum Developer, Product Owner, Agile, Kanban, and LeSS Practitioners as well as provides agile technical workshops. Naveen is active in the agile community and participates in major events as a speaker and volunteer. He has also presented papers in Global Scrum Gatherings as well as in many other Scrum Alliance conferences and meet-ups.




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