Embracing Agile: A Harvard Business Review Review. Part 1.

Embracing Agile: A Harvard Business Review Review. Part 1.

Last year, Management & #Agile legends: Darrell K. Rigby, Jeff Sutherland & Hirotaka Takeuchi, got together and wrote a research paper (find it here) making an argument on how organizations can embrace Agile methodologies in their management.

We at SoftwareDevTools decided to do our own review of the article and share it, looking forward to more organizations to embrace this methodology. We have already worked on some tools for #Remote teams to adopt #Agile methodologies, just check out our Agile Retrospectives for Confluence and for Jira, Scrum Poker for Confluence and for Jira also, or our new Stand.Bot to automate daily updates in remote teams.

Why do we do this? Well, we are all about sharing #Agile best practices, and as the article notes, Agile has a history of 2-digit improvement in IT, So the opportunity for other areas is substantial.

Bottomline, the Agile approach is accelerating profitable growth & helping to create a new generation of skilled managers.

The current impediment to a widespread adoption of Agile management in other areas of an organization has to do with Executives that don't fully understand it, even considering it dangerous. In doing so, they erode the benefits that Agile Innovation can deliver.

Darrell, Jeff & Hirotaka list 6 crucial practices for leaders to adopt in order to capitalize the full Agile's potential. So we are going to be covering each practice in a different blog post. On to the first one:

1. Learn how Agile really works.

Some executives associate Agile with lack of control. But this is not correct. There are several approaches to Agile Development, and each one of them emphasizes different things: Scrum emphasizes creative and adaptive teamwork for solving complex problems; Lean development focuses on eliminating waste; Kanban concentrates in reducing lead times and the amount of work in process.

Agile Methodologies

The fundamentals of #Agile, and in particular for Scrum are relatively simple:

  • To tackle an opportunity, the organization forms and empowers a small team (three to nine people). The team is cross-functional and includes all the skills necessary to complete its tasks. It manages itself and is strictly accountable for every aspect of the work.

  • The team’s “initiative owner” (the product owner) is responsible for delivering value to customers and to the business (Including internal customers and future users). The product owner usually comes from a business function and divides his or her time between working with the team and coordinating with key stakeholders: customers, senior executives, and business managers. The initiative owner may use a technique such as design thinking or crowdsourcing to build a comprehensive “portfolio backlog” of promising opportunities.

  • The team creates a simple roadmap and plans in detail only those activities that won’t change before execution. At this point the team uses an estimation technique. Scrum Poker is very popular. Its members break the highest-ranked tasks into small modules, decide how much work the team will take on, develop a clear definition of “done,” and then start building working versions of the product in short cycles known as sprints. A process facilitator (scrum master) guides the process. The facilitator helps the team put its collective intelligence to work.

  • The process is transparent to everyone. Team members hold brief daily “stand-up” meetings to review progress and identify roadblocks (SoftwareDevTools.com just released a great slack bot to automate this process). They resolve disagreements through experimentation and feedback rather than endless debates or appeals to authority.

Compared with traditional management approaches, agile offers a number of major benefits, all of which have been well studied and documented.

  • It increases team productivity and employee satisfaction.

  • It minimizes the waste inherent in redundant meetings, repetitive planning, excessive documentation, quality defects, and low-value product features.

  • By improving visibility and continually adapting to customers’ changing priorities, agile improves customer engagement and satisfaction, brings the most valuable products and features to market faster and more predictably, and reduces risk.

  • By engaging team members from multiple disciplines as collaborative peers, it broadens organizational experience and builds mutual trust and respect.

  • Finally, by dramatically reducing the time squandered on micromanaging functional projects, it allows senior managers to devote themselves more fully to higher-value work that only they can do: creating and adjusting the corporate vision; prioritizing strategic initiatives; simplifying and focusing work; assigning the right people to tasks; increasing cross-functional collaboration; and removing impediments to progress.

This is part 1 of a series of blog posts. Stay tuned for part 2: Understand Where Agile Does or Does Not Work

Trying to improve your #Agile practices? OR are you getting started with Agile? Are you in a remote team? Check out our products for Agile teams at SoftwareDevTools. We focus on making agile ceremonies more effective and easier to adopt for remote teams.

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