We hear from executives frequently looking to accelerate their Agile transformation. They have already bought into the benefits and ROI of transforming their full organization (teams, programs, and portfolios). Now they are shifting their attention to the speed of deployment and their ability to capture the promised ROI in a fast, measurable way.
The simplest (and arguably least scalable) way to do this is to hire an army of coaches. Relying on a core of highly skilled internal or external consultants to challenge the status quo, train the teams, and keep everyone on track is an absolute necessity--but attempting to "go faster" by following your team of 5 coaches and hiring 20 more, inevitably runs into a couple of natural barriers, including the quality of available coaches, cost, and governance.
A more important task is to define a set of process standards at the program-portfolio level that sets the context for what is required from the teams (think minimally acceptable governance standards). Agile, by its nature, calls upon teams to organically self-organize and define the processes that will yield the best possible result. The issue as organizations scale is that the ability for locally-optimized teams to work in a coordinated fashion for system-level optimization becomes near impossible. While organizations may be training teams faster and faster, the benefits of the transformation aren't realized at the enterprise level. Accelerating value realization requires systems-level thinking, and without a set of minimally acceptable system-level processes and standards in place, it will be near impossible to unlock the business value of a large-scale Agile transformation.
Enter technology. With a core of expert coaches and a well-defined set of team, program, and portfolio-level processes, technology can be the most cost-effective, efficient, and successful way to accelerate value realization. Agile tools can serve as a standardizing function, systematically ensuring that teams are adhering to minimally acceptable governance principles (e.g., Does every story have an estimate? Are dependencies appropriately tracked?) or proliferate training content in the context it matters most (e.g., Watch a customized training video on how to define objectives at the moment you have to create your first objective, or view a coaching tip on how to interpret a burn-up report while viewing the report).
Tools also enable the collection of the data you need to measure and optimize team performance over time. One of the most foundational principles of any lean-Agile organization is to measure everything and optimize constantly. By capturing information in systematic way, organizations have the broadest possible opportunity to accelerate learning cycles and drive faster, more relevant improvements into the system with pinpoint accuracy.
People, processes, and technology all play a meaningful role in an Agile transformation. What do you think is the optimal mix to drive value acceleration? Is it all about the people? Is software taking over the world? Or is the answer somewhere in between?