The appetite for risk is all but gone. Enterprises aren’t allowing the luxury of “seeing where the chips fall”. The need for predictability will dominate over some of the agile idealism of allowing things to emerge. Balancing this insatiable need for predictability with the agile culture will require enterprises to become much more self-critical about how they operate. 2015 will be about alignment.
Users of agile practices are maturing. Enterprises are learning more and more that agile practices aren’t just for development teams alone. In 2014 we saw a broader shift among large enterprises’ thinking about how they’re going about taking advantage of agile. Many more of these companies realized that agile practices at the team level will only get them so far. Which is to say that team-level agile practices will not naturally scale to the enterprise.
In particular, organizational and operational structures need to be aligned with the inputs and outputs of agile practices. These inputs and outputs are not inherent to agile practices. They must be put into place by the enterprise; they cannot be put in place by product, project or services teams. Further alignment is needed so that the work of product, project and services teams can move at the speed of agile. Again, these are management responsibilities; they are not inherently found among the agile practices.
Finally, enterprises need to adjust how they measure progress in order to be aligned with the agile teams’ efforts. Enterprises are finding that governing and measuring the work in progress must also support agile practices. Allowing governance, metrics, structure, and practices to remain incongruent has been preventing true agile benefits to be realized.
In 2015 enterprises will begin to look at their entire operation including priorities, decision-making, communication and technical practices so that confidence in predictions, not just products, will emerge.
[Editor’s Note: This post is part of the annual “Cutter Predicts …” series.]