Agile implies radical change

Agile for teams is easy; Agile for organisations is hard. Organisational benefits will not arise from continuous improvement on team level. To get radical results, continuous improvement is not good enough, we need radical change!

Agile is often applied to teams only, but is this enough? Perhaps this will result in increased speed of development (only), but total cost may also increase. How can this be? Is there something wrong with Agile, or has it something to do with forgetting the value chain?

During our work at several organisations we were confronted with this fact. It encouraged us to think about how to scale the Agile values…

How did we do it? A first step was the Manifesto for Agile Organizations.

Stable teams over sourcing
Prioritizing over planning
Outcome over output
Products over projects

This is not only a new set of values, but also a recipe for change:

First start with forming stable teams. This is very easy to organise, but means a very different way of resource management en budgeting. Instead of organising teams around work (project management) we propose organising work around teams: bring work to the (existing, stable) teams. Budgeting also becomes very simple but radically different from the traditional situation: costs are just the accumulation of the personnel costs of the teams that will be present for a relatively long period of time, at least 6 months, preferably a year or longer. Costs are stable, and the amount of work getting done becomes predictable. Thus, costs are not directly coupled anymore to the work and work is done because of the expected benefits.

Then, introduce rigorous prioritisation: priority drives planning

Planning consists of two separate parts: ordering and scheduling, that is, the order in which work should be done, and at what actual time the work should be done by exactly whom. The whom part is solved already: by the stable teams. The when part follows automatically from the ordering, since we have established predictability. So, choose an ordering procedure and planning will be reduced to prioritising.

Next, prioritise on actual business outcome

The ordering cannot be on business value only. Obviously, the realisation of any type of business requirement incurs some form of cost. The best estimate for this cost can be provided by the people who will actually be doing the realization. In our case: the stable teams that we have already organised. The correct prioritisation should be based on considering business value, risk, compliancy and cost. Such a prioritisation will produce the best value for money.

Lastly, the result will be:

Product driven value chain management instead of project management! When we have accomplished the first three steps, project management is not really needed anymore: work is planned automatically, and the most important things are done first. Focus is completely on the value chain as a whole, whereas project management often has a limited view on scope and goals. By eliminating the need for project management, we also have gained a decrease in overhead.

The Manifesto for Agile Organizations is only part of bringing the organisation to Agile. Many other aspects need attention for this radical change. The Agile Pocket Guide for Organisations (Note: dutch title!) book will guide you in making this radical change and to get radical results!

By Theo Gerrits
Rik de Groot
Jeroen Venneman

Authors of:

agileTitle: Agile Pocketguide voor Agile organisaties (Note: dutch title!)
Authors: Theo Gerrits, Rik de Groot, Jeroen Venneman
ISBN: 9789087537982
Price: € 15,95
Order here your copy or view the sample file on our website!