There is no clear-cut prescription or magic bullets in agile transformations. It is hard to do and rarely done well. However, realization and ultimately success comes to those with a willingness to accept change and incorporate learning to improve and move their maturity forward. Transformation is a moving target and it constantly forces you to deal with the unpleasant and uncomfortable emotions associated with change. Throughout the course of 8 years, I have had the opportunity of seeing customers adopt and scale their people, work and time to find some repeatable pattern of sustainable innovation. The top 6 challenges I observed were common and spanned across all clients, industries and roles. -
I recently caught the new article in CIO magazine on how Principal Financial Group made the leap to transform their organization to Agile for digital development. [i] First of all, kudos to the Principal Financial team for recognizing the importance of switching from Waterfall to Agile development. For a company with over 2,600 IT professionals just making that decision to begin the transformation is a significant accomplishment.
As shared in the article, Principal realized that in order to deliver what their insurance, retirement planning and asset management customers needed, they couldn’t continue to follow the Waterfall path any longer. Instead of waiting for the “perfect app” to be produced, they made the decision that Agile was the only clear path forward. Principal didn’t just transform their processes to improve overall productivity, they went all in. They implemented hackathons to kick start new projects, shifted to bi-weekly sprints instead of every other month meetings, implemented new tools to help accelerate the transformation and even reconfigured their office space to promote collaboration among IT.
With the rich advantages of implementing an Agile workplace like faster feedback cycles, problems identified earlier on, higher potential for customer satisfaction, faster time to market and more, I am still surprised how often I encounter a large enterprise that is hesitant to go all in with Agile.
Principal is leading the way by aligning corporate strategy with the execution of the development teams to drive strategic value. The Principal team didn’t stop there; they go well beyond that. Not only do they understand the importance of leveraging Agile principles, but they also clearly understand the critical need to supplement Agile execution of the teams with effective management/oversight/rollups at the Program, Portfolio and Enterprise levels.
Here is the realization that every large enterprise will reach sooner or later… You, Company XYZ, are now a software company. Embrace this and vow to be excellent at building software or risk letting others gain the competitive advantage.
A quote shared in the article from Principal CIO Gary Scholten summed it up best. "I don't know how you could be successful in the digital world in waterfall." We don’t either.
At AgileCraft, we deliver the most comprehensive software solution available for scaling agile to the enterprise. AgileCraft transforms the way organizations enable and manage agile productivity across their enterprise, portfolios, programs, and teams by aligning business strategy with technical execution. To find out more visit us at www.agilecraft.com or follow us on twitter @theagilecraft or download our latest whitepaper An Insider's Perspective: Bank of America.