DO YOU REALLY WANT TO DO THIS?!
Below are Top 20 Questions (some of them are multi-part) to ask yourself and your Organization BEFORE deciding to go through Agile Transformation:
- Does everyone involved understand that “Agile” is not a noun but rather an adjective, which means: balance, speed, strength, reflex, coordination. A Person or Organization cannot “do” agile; it can “be” agile.
- Prior to considering agile transformation, did your organization perform Agile Transformation Readiness Assessment, to understand the gap between where it is today and where it wants to be tomorrow?
- Does your organization have senior leadership in place that genuinely wants to increase organizational agility? Is your Organization willing to go all the way in pursuit of its goals. Note: It is a known fact that an organization can be taken down the path of agility only as far as its most senior supporting leader is willing to go.
- Does your senior leadership understand that Agile Transformation, even with lightest area of impact (single team, single product, single voice of customer), is an effort that requires support from multiple organizational layers, not just IT? Does your management understand that types of relationships that have prevailed for decades between various organizational departments would have to change, and at times, significantly (shifting from “contractual” to collaborative) in order for agility to prevail?
- Does your organization understand that localized success with adopting agility (e.g. one department, single or a handful of teams) is not a guarantee of broad-band, enterprise-wide agile adoption (agility at scale)? Pockets of agility are relatively easy to achieve by improving a single, stand-alone parameter (e.g. engineering practices, introducing a key role of Product Owner). On contrary, systemic agility is a much more complex task that may require fundamental organizational redesign.
- Is your senior leadership ready to change its organizational structure, reporting relationships, span of control and authority of individuals? Is your senior leadership ready to deal with resistance to such changes, coming from individuals that fear losing an authority and decision-making power (e.g. first-line managers and supervisors)?
- Is senior leadership empowered to change (at times, discontinue) outdated HR norms and policies that cause disservice and harm to organizations, while diminishing their overall agility? Does senior leadership know what those norms and policies are any WHY they are considered to be harmful?
- Can your organization change ways it perceives and evaluates its intellectual workers? Is it willing to shift from evaluating individuals to evaluating teams (or groups of individuals working together)? Does your organization understand what impact discretionary monetary incentives and bonuses have on intellectual workers? Does your organization understand what behaviors are caused by individual performance appraisals and how the latter impacts collective ownership, shared goals and deliverables?
- Related to # 8, is your organization driven by score cards and metrics? Does it understand that with improved transparency and visibility, corollary to increased agility, old metrics and “colors” (e.g. RAGs) become much less reliable, or even obsolete?
- Does your senior leadership understand that agile transformation cannot be done, using a cookie cutting approach? Every organization is different and methods of improving agility will vary: what works for one organization may not work for another. An organization must liberate itself from peer pressure of other organizations that have gone through transformation and claim success (at times, falsely).
- Is senior leadership willing to break silos of its functional areas (e.g. BA department, QA department, Dev department) and redesign itself into cross-functional groups that are optimized to deliver business value? Does senior leadership understand that breaking silos may lead to organizational flattening and unexpected exposure of aged dysfunctions?
- Related to #11, can your organization offer a prosperous Career Development Path to those individuals that are no longer focused just on a single specialty, where they would otherwise gain seniority over years (e.g. Sr. Business Analyst) or retaining a broad span of resource control (e.g. Sr. QA Manager) but instead embrace the concept of becoming a T-shaped, cross-functional expert?
- Does your organization rely too much on external consulting and has specific HR policies in place that prevent consultants from providing services for prolonged periods of time? Does your organization understand what affect frequent on/off-boarding of intellectual workers has on knowledge retention, continuity, teaming (forming, storming, morning) and overall agility?
- Does your organization understand that it must provide “operational safety” to those parties that are involved in transformation (especially, those that pioneer it)? Individuals must feel safe to experiment, inspect and adopt. Initial short-term failures should be a part of success criteria.
- Does your organization understand key Team-level roles that are required to support organizational agility from the bottom? Why must these roles be empowered and supported? Which roles become less significant and why?
- Related to # 15, does your organization know what needs to be done, to preserve intellectual capital and provide job security (not! role security) to valued individuals that might be adversely affected (e.g. misplaced) by organizational flattening?
- What does your organization value more: short term savings and wins, brought about by Location Strategies or long term victories caused by Co-Location Strategies?
- If your organization relies on third party services (e.g. vendors, contractors) or in partnership with other organizations, does it know how it needs to reassess its external contracts, SLAs and SOWs, in order not to sacrifice its internal organizational agility? Note: having two partnered organizations at significantly different levels of agility could put at serious disadvantage more agile organization.
- Does your organization have Agile experts (Trainers and Coaches) available that have sufficient experience with transformations across multiple organizational layers, at multiple organizations? Is your organization familiar with Rules of Engagement and Disengagement that it should follow, while engaging with external Agile experts?
Have I not yet discouraged you from attempting to take your organization down Agile Transformation path? If the answer is “NO” then your needs are strong and your intents are good, and even the most fundamental changes that your organization would have to make are worthy, in order to get you to a better place tomorrow.
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