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As organizations transition from traditional waterfall project management and adopt an Agile mindset, they will experience a measurable and significant increase in flexibility, collaboration, and self-organization.
The challenge is knowing how to effectively and gradually change the cultural mindset around working with what is familiar and known to what may seem at first unknown, counter-intuitive and non-productive. The ultimate goal is to get the organization to embrace the new paradigm and accept a new, better way of thinking.
As an example, one of the main tenets of the Agile approach is when taking an iterative approach to design thinking, one is not bound to the original plan and that refactoring/redesigning should be expected and even planned for. After each iteration of exploring and discovery, the plan is modified to take into account the successes and failures learned.
In this way, the teams can take advantage of another fundamental of Agile thinking: failing early and failing often. I guarantee that lead architects and engineers in your organization are not starting with the question: “How can we FAIL BIG and FAIL FAST?” As odd as that sounds, once teams get used to the practice of thinking about those pitfalls and hidden/undiscovered challenges at the beginning of a project and frontload discovery spikes and POCs, they will realize the benefit and never-ever look back. For those of you who have been building software for a long time, you know that you can never get away from Technical Debt. Before Agile, you either lived with degraded performance and poor customer experience or had to budget for a significant ol’ refactoring.
Through continuous Agile Planning, you can adjust your plan as needed, fix what’s truly important, make data-driven decisions, and consistently provide incremental value sprint-over-sprint.
STAND 8 Agile Coaches help organizations with their Agile Transformations by training and mentoring individuals and teams to discover and implement improved ways of collaborating and developing into high-performing, self-organizing, Agile units. By working within all levels of the organization, from executive leaders to frontline developers, the coaches can build a sustainable Lean Product Management, Continuous Improvement, and Continuous Planning program.
By instituting a regular cadence for Agile ceremonies and activities, the team gets accustomed to working and collaborating in short bursts of focused development, usually 2 or 3-week sprints:
Sprint demos and retros
Feature and Story grooming
Being an Agile development organization extends far beyond just running Sprints. It takes a solid program of estimating and T-shirt sizing large-scale efforts (Epics), breaking them down into medium-sized work efforts (Capabilities), organizing them into even smaller-sized groups of work (Features), and developer’s tasks divided into the smallest possible self-contained units of work (Stories).
The proper Agile organization to support a culture of continuous improvement and continuously planning MUST include the following:
Agile Release Train (ART): a team of scrum teams aligned to a shared business and technology mission. These teams are commonly organized around a singular value stream and can deliver a continuous flow of value by defining, implementing, testing, deploying, and releasing software and hardware solutions.
Troika: each Agile Release Train is led by a leadership team consisting of a release train engineer (in charge of program execution), product manager, and architect(s).
Scrum Team: each scrum team is led by a product owner in charge of defining and prioritizing the backlog; a scrum master runs team ceremonies and supports team functions, software developers, and QA analysts (aka SDETs).
Undoubtedly every organization will face at some point the same age-old challenge: the business needing and asking for more work than the engineering team can deliver. With traditional waterfall project management and improperly managed Agile programs, development teams will consistently over-commit and under-deliver, resulting in costly carryover caused by unplanned scope creep.
As the teams, with release trains, and stakeholders mature in their understanding of Agile principles, they will see and experience the benefit of breaking down large chunks of work into Minimum Viable Products (MVP). With the MVP, they are focused on iterating on architecture designs (refactoring if needed) and establishing a product roadmap that creates an architectural runway for enhancing, innovating, and taking software products to the next level.
Our STAND 8 Agile Coaches and Practitioners help organizations up-level their thinking, planning, and delivery of the most critical and value-generating software products. Done correctly, an Agile Transformation (or possibly in your case a re-Transformation) will be an investment you and your organization WILL NOT EVER ever regret!