In my first post I explained the importance of building a resilient organization through agile development. Now we shift our focus to the price… and the payoff. Here are the rest of my thoughts.
There is a price of admission, however. People must accept greater responsibility for their work and approach it differently. For example, individuals must be prepared to work outside of their specialty because with agile development, the focus changes from delivering on intermediate outputs of specialists to the outcome of a delighted customer. Sure, everyone need to have some skills to contribute. But in order to reach that outcome, people must work together using the resources of the team to the fullest extent.
Individuals and teams must also develop a deeper understanding of the work and have more involvement in execution. The team must not only understand the desired outcome that they’re being asked to produce, everyone must be willing to hold one another accountable for contributing on a regular basis. And everyone must be willing to collaborate and engage in learning and trying new things – like technical practices – to help the team steadily improve.
As a member of an agile development team, it is no longer acceptable to “do your job” in a narrow sense of the word, nor is it the job of your manager or project manager to coordinate the team’s daily activities. The team must not only keep a sharp eye on the team’s progress; they must develop the capacity to step back and assess what they can do to improve on their own, without a mandate from above.
As a leader, keep in mind that achieving organizational resiliency means more than adopting and executing the mechanics of a particular framework; there are changes in expectations and behaviors that must come with it. Management is in an excellent position to help make this happen.
Management needs to embrace, encourage, nurture and guide the organization toward this new behavior model. The key is to continually expand the understanding and benefits of agile beyond the development organization. Companies face an impedance mismatch when they “make use” of agile development, but retain many of the command-and-control behaviors in the surrounding organization.
If the surrounding organization is decidedly non-agile, there will be forces continually tugging at agile implementations, pulling them back toward the old ways of operating, potentially implementing a hybrid form of waterfall and scrum, for example, and limiting the benefits obtained from agile.
Ask yourself this: Do you want an adaptive, resilient organization? One that can quickly and smoothly self-organize to meet the demands of today’s highly competitive business climate? If so, then don’t constrain your agile implementation, but keep moving forward and seek to leverage the full potential of being agile. Change takes time and patience, but it’s worth it.
About Our Guest Blogger
Dave Moran currently lives and works in Portland, Maine. His work experience includes being a developer, a development manager and most recently, a product manager. Check out his blog, Software Results, which focuses on channeling Dave’s passion for business, software development and writing – with an emphasis on Agile leadership.