Much of the discussion about agile has in the past been about creating “working software,” team dynamics, technical practices, and even the project management required to get effective and acceptable code delivered and/or deployed. What teams quickly find out is that they depend on other organizational dynamics outside their purview, such as securing customer involvement, issue escalation, and resource allocation; even facility management becomes important. When these issues arise, unless they are in a small enough company where there is only one team working, they will need to become aligned with the rest of the organization to ensure the best collaboration possible.
However, what most leaders discover is that by taking on agile as their development methodology, they come face-to-face with organizational change. Change will be provoked by needing to cross previously undisputed functional boundaries to involve customers, stakeholders, and other managers, entering into agreements for resource sharing, and potentially renegotiating work processes with other departments, such as sales, contracting, finance/accounting, and human resources. To have a reasonably orderly transfer from a traditional or function-focused work method to one that is more agile and adaptive requires behavioral modeling, management, and an ongoing “enablement team,” as if you were managing any other purposeful change initiative.
Agile implementation in an organization requires an executive enablement team to manage the following details associated with almost every agile implementation. The team must:
- Consider issues related to integration and release expectations
- Assess and resolve technical debt
- “Sweat” the right level of detail
- Coordinate sales’ commitments with development capacity
- Negotiate appropriate delivery dates
- Reduce organizational insanity with fewer, well-defined projects/initiatives
- Make sure there is a clear definition for decision making (empowerment)
- Make meetings purposeful and productive
- Develop a rapid issue resolution process
- Address other topics as they emerge
There is no magic pill: being faster, better, and cheaper requires collaborative work, even at the organization’s leadership/executive levels.