If you are keen to know what an agile transformation engagement looks like, the typical phases, the key aspects, then this may be an interesting read for you-
The focus of this blog is to discuss the typical phases of a change journey and the span across where the coach can get involved. Based on my experience, I have seen that any change journey typically falls into four phases which I call them– Mining, Refining, Executing and Ope-rationalizing.
The different personas in the changing ecosystem that include the leadership, managers, product management and team members play an important role to inspire agility, while they embark on a change journey for a sustainable agile transformation. Let us discuss these phases in detail-
Mining – The 1st stage is called the mining stage, Mining is like digging in the dirt that helps in uncovering all the big issues. The crux here lies in understanding why we want to change, what can Agile bring to the table, what business problem are we trying to solve?
In this phase we do a series of assessments and interviews, meet as many people to assess the org readiness for agile adoption. This phase will help to ponder on why they think they need to change and what they would like to change. The goal is to understand what is the current state and challenges from the leadership, 0rganization, Business, and Delivery and Execution perspectives!
Assessments are also done to get a pulse of the software craftsmanship, i.e engineering practices. The assessments can range from a basic to an advanced level based on the context.
Refining- Once the initial discovery phase is done, what follows next is the Refining phase, where the data gathered is organized around the key areas of Leadership/Org, Prod and Business strategy, Delivery and Execution strategy, Release frequency and planning, etc as shown in the below snapshot.
So now that we have some baseline data, the next step is to create an environment where everyone can collaboratively solve the problems-brainstorm on where they want to go. This collaboration is what leads to the road-mapping activity.
Road mapping is basically coming up with the execution plan with different activities to initiate the change journey during the transformation period!
This phase may vary depending on what you are doing whether it is at a team level or organization level engagement. For a few teams, this can translate to a simple improvement backlog and in some cases, it may lead to big change initiatives that lead to the transformation backlog.
Considering agile is all about continuous planning, the road map should be revisited often as the team learns and changes as the ecosystem around it evolves.
Executing –Okay now let’s talk about the Execution Phase i.e how do we make progress on our plan, what are the key areas that leadership, mgmt., business, agile coaches and teams need to focus on, that would help ease the agile transformation journey!
Here is a infographic that shows some of the focus items-
The policies and processes need to be changed to game with the agile execution and delivery methods for the entire business to be agile. So all of the functions including the HR policies, Performance appraisals, release and deployment pipeline and in fact all the existing processes should be aligned to support the agile shift.
One of the important areas of focus is the “Agile Governance” since as the teams start using agile frameworks like Scrum, larger organizational challenges surrounding the teams will begin to be exposed that include the role of PMO, project manager, non-agile teams such as infrastructure, support etc. Ignoring these aspects may likely result in a slow regression to the “old” way of doing things.
Operationalizing – OK now that agile transformation has been rolled out and people understand what’s agile, we have structures supporting it, now how do we ensure that the agile practices can persist. i.e., how can it be sustained? Here are some practices that can help in sustenance:
I would say do a SWOT and figure out what is working well and needs improvement and you would be able to come up with what needs work! Learning and sharing though COPs, Nurturing agile evangelists, Agile brown bag sessions- wherein the floor is open to everyone in the org to talk and discuss team specific challenges, Ongoing communications about how the transformation is progressing, Agile health checks to inspect and adapt, Focusing on doing versus being agile- all these would help in sustenance.
An important point to remember is that even though these phases appear sequential, it may vary based on context and need of the hour!