Getting agile in the digital space

Agile Approach.

The world is moving so fast that traditional planning and delivery always seem to fail. Even assuming the plan is delivered, often the goal posts have moved. Projects suck for this reason alone.

This is where an agile approach shines, as the culture revolves around the needs of the users and focusses on delivering value in a timely fashion.

To achieve the (not inconsiderable) shift to agile requires the organisation to make radical change and slay a whole heard of sacred cows. So out goes:

  • Prince 2, Waterfall, Big-chart, Gannt-driven, long-term planning
  • Hierarchical decision processes
  • Closed doors and infrastructure policies
  • Us and them customer mentality
  • HiPPOs
  • Added complexity, features and just doing stuff
  • Mono-skilled expensive specialists
  • Fitting the needs of the business around the services we offer
  • Corporate licensing of tools and applications

And in comes:

  • Rapid response planning, release early and often and delivering stuff
  • Collaboration and transparency
  • Responsive culture – reacting quickly to opportunities and emerging trends
  • Understanding of users, and the business, and helping them achieve their goals
  • Multi-discipline teams
  • Setting triggers to initiate change
  • Simplicity. KISS.

Traditional companies and departments can struggle with the “letting go of control” so a shake-up is often in order. Sometimes it’s easier to let go of old dinosaurs than to make them change – the brighter ones (the ones you want to keep) will see, understand and adapt all by themselves.

Early benefits

Executed swiftly there are some very key wins that will be recognised by the business and rewarded with greater airtime, budgets and flexibility. And they include:

  • Greater productivity as a combination of happier staff, fewer restrictions, greater trust, more flexible working and greater engagement.
  • Faster delivery to market as a function of shorter delivery timescales, less project baggage and fewer corporate hierarchy dampers
  • Better delivery with greater customer satisfaction because you got them bought into what you were trying to achieve
  • Improved personal development as folks have more time to learn and explore new stuff, especially “pretty amazing new stuff”.

How to get started

People are either agile, or they are not. There is no halfway house.

Someone, a person, has to start the thinking and drive that through the business via leadership, training, tools, culture and reward. People react differently to agile, and change in general, so you might consider an agile coach or formalised training.

When Connected “offically” adopted agile in 2008 we didn’t even know what it was. It wasn’t until we introduced the basic tools to help agile delivery (scrums, timeboxing, iterations, feedback loops, engagement) that we realised “hey, we were already agile”. The tools made out life easier.

Just to re-iterate two points made some paragraphs apart. Sometimes it’s easier to let go of old dinosaurs and People are either agile, or they are not.

It only takes a few nay-sayers for the culture to fail. I cannot stress this enough.

Finally, agile should be agile (!) in the sense that how you adopt and deliver agile thinking will change and adapt over time. It should move to being simpler, if it gets complicated then you are doing it wrong.

If you want to know more about our journey to agile, or chat about it over a coffee then get in touch with me – I’d be happy yo answer questions.

By Martin Dower, CEO