Empirically managed agile transformation
"The development of complex systems is fraught with difficulty. Many organizations have taken the vocabulary and outward form of agile practice, but without sponsoring the deep change that agile adoption genuinely requires. The benefits they hope for escape them...and their projects continue to fail. All too often, nothing really changes at all. This book tells you what agile practice is really about, and how to achieve it. The essential components of an agile way of working are laid out chapter by chapter. The book concludes with a concise treatment of the agile transformation problem, and shows how to leverage agile patterns and practices in order to resolve it."
Agile Development in Practice is available from amazon.com.
- Many hands make light work
- None of us is as smart as all of us
JANUARY 26 2017: Mobomo, a Washington DC supplier to the U.S Government, has explained its use of agile techniques in the Federal space. In this interview in Application Developer Magazine, they explain the key roles and benefits and the new disciplines which are needed. Note: Many good patterns are identified here, including Product Ownership, Teamwork, Servant Leadership, and Swarm.
MAY 12 2016: The BBC has been criticised for thinking that agility means "making it up as you go along". According to an article in The Register, the National Audit Office found significant shortcomings in the organization's project for customising the user experience of the MyBBC portal. “MyBBC is an ‘agile’ project that was designed to define benefits as the project progressed," the NAO is quoted as saying, "but two years into the project it still was not clear what the BBC expected MyBBC to achieve overall”. The report goes on to claim that benefits were only defined late in the day, two years after the project had started. Note: The BBC Trust is quoted as saying that the project "did not define its its expected benefits upfront" because it was "an ‘agile’ project where benefits were to be defined as the project progresse[d].” This is a misunderstanding of agile practice, since a Minimum Viable Product ought to be delivered regularly and incrementally, where each MVP is framed in order to validate or invalidate a clear and testable hypothesis. Failure to do so can encourage Vanity Metrics, an antipattern in which success is not measured objectively, but rather by attributes that show the initiative in the best light.
- The DevOps Studio (PDF). An
introduction to the "DevOps Studio", a more agile and potentially
bimodal engagement model for IT and Business. (5 minute read).
- Innovation Wars: Trump, Lean Startup, and Zero to One (PDF). The implications of Donald Trump's Whitehouse win for innovation policy are considered. (8 minute read).
- Agile Scaling Frameworks: An Executive Summary (PDF). The most popular agile scaling frameworks are outlined. (2 minute read).
Beyond Agile Operations: How to Achieve The Holy Grail of Strategic Agility. Most organizations today are still struggling to master agile practice at an operational level. In this article, Steve Denning explains that, although developing these competencies is important, it is agility at a strategic level which must ultimately be achieved. This involves the disruptive creation of new markets where the agile organization brings value as an innovative network of players. Read more at Forbes Magazine.
The Lean Enterprise: Introduction to Massively Disruptive Innovation. At scale, lean organizations have cross-functional teams, culture in which all teams own the product, and embrace an innovative mindset. Failure is not only expected, but encouraged. Read more at The Agile Zone.
The Lean Startup Security Guide. A well thought-out set of measures and safeguards tailored to the security needs of early-stage startups, and which provides a solid foundation for growth. Read more at leanstartupsecurity.com.
5 Common Pitfalls of #Agile Transformation in the Government (and how to avoid them). A brief examination of some of the pathologies that are most frequently encountered, including resistance to change, failure to deliver software frequently, siloing of work, lack of Product Owner empowerment, and the putting of politics before process. Read more at Coveros.
To Lead a Digital Transformation, CEOs Must Prioritize. Transformational leadership is about creating an agile organization that can detect what type of change is essential and respond quickly with the most competitive solution, says Laurent-Pierre Baculard in Harvard Business Review. The problem however, is that that these efforts tend to be ad-hoc and uncoordinated. CEOs need a holistic view of the digital threats and opportunities facing key parts of the business, and a way to link them to an overall vision. Read more at Harvard Business Review.
How to get agile to work at your company. The need for clear sponsorship in an agile transformation is highlighted in this article from CIO Magazine. Transformation requires a shift in thinking for all parties involved and the full support of C-suite leadership, the business and developer teams. Much of this shift is cultural, especially when people are more familiar with stage-gated waterfall practices. "Getting everyone aligned with how the new process will work is a challenge", the article observes. "In addition, some people have misconceptions and/or lack of understanding to what agile really means." Read more at CIO Magazine.
Agile in the UK Government - An Insider Reveals All. How much, if anything, have GDS achieved? Are £12 billion IT disasters still likely to happen? Key takeaways from this exposé include:
- GDS are trying to transform the UK government, to become digital-by-default
- GDS philosophy puts users first, with a focus on agile principles and practices
- Continuous delivery is happening in many government agencies, including HMRC
- Lots of UK government code is now open source
- Big progress by GDS, but still lots of big challenges
Read more at InfoQ.
12 Failure Modes of an Agile Transformation. Among Jean Tabaka's many contributions to the betterment of agile practice was this article, in which she identified “12 Agile Adoption Failure Modes”. "It’s imperative that we look not just at Agile adoption, but at Agile transformation — where organizations move beyond Agile principles within their IT groups to business agility", she said. "To accomplish this, we transform from just doing Agile to being Agile". The failure modes she identified include a lack of executive sponsorship and a failure to transform leader behaviors. Each one of these modes can be viewed as an agile antipattern that inhibits successful agile transformation. Read more on the Rally website.
Scaling Agile at Spotify with Tribes, Squads, Chapters, and Guilds. Spotify, a Swedish startup launched in 2008, now has hundreds of agile developers divided into 30 agile teams spread over 4 cities in 3 timezones. Its approach to achieving agile practice at enterprise scale is widely regarded as a definitive case study in the matter. In this 14 page whitepaper, Henrik Kniberg and Anders Ivarsson explain the Spotify system in terms of team responsibilities, roles, and dependencies. Read more at Tech Crunch, including the implications for Enterprise Lean Startup.
How PayPal rallied a 4,000-strong move to Agile. PayPal’s wholesale move to an Agile methodology was built on ‘four pillars,’ took seven months and changed the way 4,000 IT and product people did their jobs. Read more on TechTarget about how it got done.
How Pairing & Swarming Work & Why They Will Improve Your Products. Swarming is a behavioral pattern that many teams would like to apply, but which they find difficult to implement. In this article Johanna Rothman compares and contrasts swarming with pairing, why both of these techniques work well, and how they ultimately help to improve product value. Read more at The Agile Zone.
Unspoken Agile Topics. Companies often decide to introduce Agile practices without thoroughly thinking through why they are doing it. For such companies, Agile adoption has almost taken the form of a fashion statement, a way to prove to themselves that they are up to date with others. In this paper Gene Gendel of Global Investment Bank looks at the impact of these problems on agile transformation, how it is measured, and at how it is implemented in terms of team roles and best practices. Read more at scrumalliance.org.
Why You Should Limit Work In Progress. "Sometimes I sit down at the end of a day or even a week and am dismayed that I don’t seem to have really accomplished anything. I know I was very busy and I know I was working hard on important things, but why don’t I have anything to show for it?" Read more on the importance of Limited WIP in this article by David Hammerslag at BigVisible.