What is Agile Transformation and How to DO it?

What is Agile Transformation and How to DO it

Agile Transformation Definition

Agile transformation is the journey of transitioning. In this process, there is the transformation of the nature and form of an organization. Firms transform to adapt to the fast-changing, collaborative, and self-organizing environment.

In the 1970-the 1980s, three seemingly unconnected events created a wicked storm clouding agile transformations today.

What Is Agile Transformation?

Agile transformation is a strategy that helps the organization transform to a more reactive approach that has its basis on agile principles

Before we try to understand agile transformation, let’s first get right what it is not. An agile transformation is not the adoption of agile software development methodologies

Agile transformation is not just about building the software; it is more significant than that. This transformation goes way beyond just product development and extends to the entire organization. 

When agile transformation occurs, teams also embrace scrum, lean, and other methodologies.

The main goal of the agile transformation is to bring a fresh perspective to the organization. 

And it can breathe new life into the organization by building an environment that supports:

  • Creativity and innovation
  • Empowering employees
  • Reducing unnecessary layers of the management hierarchy

The result of agile transformation will look something like this;

Suppose your organization is successful in agile transformation. There will be a revolution in the way you manage the projects, address the customer, their needs and requests, and eventually grow your business. 

Agile Transformation

Agile and DevOps Transformation 

When your organization combines agile and DevOps transformation, you will get your desired business outcomes

Agile is the iterative approach. It focuses on customer feedback, small and rapid releases, and collaboration to satisfy customers by continuously delivering value

Agile transformation refers to the reworking and rethinking of how you engage with your people and processes to achieve specific business goals.

DevOps comes under the software development (Dev), wherein engineers and IT operations(Ops) work during the product life cycle.

When you put together both the agile and DevOps transformation, you will get the opportunity to bring together the tech and business sides of the organization.

This combination will deliver the following benefits;

  • You can gain quick feedback.
  • You can also reduce risks.
  • You can obtain meaningful business outcomes.

The other payoffs of combining the agile and DevOps transformation are:

  • Quality, speed. innovation, predictability, and productivity
  • Employee engagement
  • Market responsiveness increases
  • Satisfaction of your customers
  • Continuous organization improvement

Why do you need an Agile transformation?

Agile transformation allows businesses to be more responsive, do more with less, and better satisfy their customers’ needs. An agile transition takes a lot of support, resources, and time to get right, not to mention the resolve to stick it out when things get tough.

What are the benefits of Agile transformation?

The advantages of agile transformation are similar to those of scrum or other software development methodologies. 

It’s true that benefits like predictable and high-quality software delivery, adapting to rapidly changing needs, and increasing customer attention are a result of an agile transformation. However, there is a slew of other advantages worth mentioning.

Despite the popularity of Agile Transformation and the advantages of business agility, many organizations remain resistant to change. Each change comes at a price, and senior management is wary that Agile is merely another management fad.

Teams learn to offer “just enough” to meet the expectations of end-users, allowing them to experience and use working software sooner and with fewer problems. The agile transformation will enable teams to show software regularly to stakeholders, establishing a trusting and predictable relationship. 

According to research, Agile Transformation can cut time to market by at least 40%. Agile frameworks assist businesses in extracting value from complex problems and challenges. The minimum viable product – MVP — is a fantastic technique.

The transformation of information technology is through agile innovation methodologies. They have considerably raised software development success rates, improved quality and speed to market, and elevated the motivation and productivity of IT teams over the last 25 to 30 years.

Another characteristic that agile values are adapting to change while sticking to a plan. Most software users do not know what they want until they see it, and it does not make sense to devise a strategy in which software will not be available for months.

Why Do Agile Transformations Fail?

As per the State Of Agile Survey report, 98% of agile transformations fail because they cannot generate the capability to adapt to the market’s changing conditions. 

Such an increasing rate is alarming for the teams in product management

We will look at the six reasons why we think agile transformations fail. However, note that there can be other reasons not mentioned here, as the failure of agile transformations can vary from organization to organization. 

Lack of the Basics

Product development teams focus on transforming product development, which is the number one reason why agile transformations fail.

For this very purpose getting the basics of agile right is mandatory. 

Agile transformation is more than just improving the delivery teams’ efficiency. It includes the responsiveness of teams to change, having an open mindset while executing, and having a failing-fast-switching-faster mode. 

Company Culture

Resistance to change and not focusing on the cultural and various management implications due to agile are other reasons for the failure of agile transformation.

If your organization has a strong command and control culture, you will not realize this as an option for failure. Therefore, building your company culture on trust, commitment, and team spirit is essential. 

Taking Inspiration and Coping With Others’ Transformation Projects

It is wrong to use the agile transformation roadmap of some other organization. 

Some organizations hire agile coaches from outside; others get inspired by case studies, and so on.

Your organization will have varying requirements and priorities than theirs. 

Agile and Pilots, That’s It!

Another reason agile transformations fail is that organizations limit their scope of exploration.

They wait for results after testing agile on the pilot projects. It is imperative to spreading agile beyond the small groups. 

Not Hiring the Correct People

To have self-organization teams, it is a must to hire individuals who have skills and are motivated. 

Many product owners think of hiring after setting up the roadmap, which is the wrong direction. 

No Proper Communication and Collaboration

The main hurdle in large agile teams is the collaboration and communication of team members. 

Agile transformation blooms through individuals and interactions. However, taking this approach in large organizations is a challenge. 

Therefore product owners must find ways to bring agile teams from across the organization together.

With an understanding of how agile transformation fails, you can build an excellent agile team that has its basis on value.

How To Build a Successful Agile Transformation Roadmap?

Suppose an organization wants to become successful in transforming successfully. In that case, having a we-will-figure-it-out-as-we-go is not a good attitude to have.

A successful agile transformation roadmap is a must for this very purpose building.

An agile transformation roadmap refers to the high-level plan that jots down the vision and the various steps the organization plans on to make the agile transformation.

Why Do You Need To Create an Agile Transformation Roadmap?

One of the main reasons why agile transformations fail is because, as humans, we resist change when it is the only constant, right? 

Similarly, teams resist the change, but what we see from the outside as resistance is often the lack of direction that puts them in that spot.

An agile transformation roadmap helps to clear out that resistance because it serves as a foundation for the transformation.

Steps To Build a Successful Agile Transformation Roadmap:

Get Started: Defining the End Goal

In this step, look at the end state of the transformation. When you have the end goal vision for the transformation, you can decide the pattern for teams formation, understand the process flows, create the governance, set metrics and other tooling strategies in place,

By the end of this first step, your team will have the first expedition in place and be ready to run end to end pilot. Therefore you will also have the basecamp prepared to implement the necessary changes.

The Agile Transformation Starts: Rolling Out

In this step, leaders must form, train, and coach teams. Thereby effectively taking the expedition ahead and progressively moving past the basecamps. 

Here you will also implement the aspects of the end vision, gather the baseline metrics, and communicate and measure the improvement as teams progress.

Sustain the Changes

In the final step, three things will begin to solidify: the structure, governance, and metrics. Therefore establishing the internal best practices is a good step for the organization.

At this point, documenting those best practices will prove to be extremely useful. Some of the practices will be:

  • To craft training materials, process cheatsheets and the handouts
  • To develop strategies and methods for onboarding the internal coaches
  • To conduct the remediation and other organizational assessments

Some of the other points to consider when creating an agile transformation roadmap are:

  • Train the stakeholders and other teams at all levels
  • Understand the scope of the initiative at the organizational and the team level
  • Know when and how to bring in the agile adoption

How to do Agile transformation?

Many giant firms undergo Agile transformations as Agile consumes the world. There is a severe difficulty that will require significant change over time for most people.

Businesses must provide product increments to customers quickly and reliably to succeed in today’s market. More significantly, they must be flexible and capable of responding to customer feedback.

While every Agile transformation is unique, most organizations go through the following steps:

1. CREATE A COALITION OF LEADERSHIP

The agile transformation will necessitate changes in every aspect of the business and top-level support. Ascertain that executives are on board and are aware of the situation.

2. CREATE A FINAL STATE VISION

Before we start, we must have some concept of where we should start, but we expect the plan to alter. This plan offers a working hypothesis for structure, governance, and measurements, which we will develop as the transformation progresses.

3. CREATE A TRANSFORMATION MAP

We need to offer the organization a sense of what we’re going to do, how long it’ll take, and what we anticipate to get out of the investment.

4. KEEP A 90-DAY PLAN ON THE GO

The Transformation Leadership Team meets to make plans for the future, evaluate progress, and make adjustments as needed. The idea is to establish a rolling 90-day plan that gives a clear picture of what will happen.

5. CHECKPOINTS FOR 30 DAYS

We wish to evaluate the progress of the Transformation work regularly, similar to the sprint cycle.

6. LEARN & ADAPT

Re-evaluate the end-state vision in light of how our understanding has grown throughout the transformation.

7. LINK ACTIVITIES TO OUTCOMES

We begin by developing hypotheses, conducting experiments, demonstrating results, and pivoting based on our findings.

8. CONNECTION OF OUTCOMES TO BUSINESS GOALS

We want to be able to link system enhancements to measurable business benefits and display the Executive’s progress against business measure baselines regularly.

9. COMMUNICATION MANAGEMENT

The leadership’s regular, candid communication about progress and roadblocks will generate excitement and energy.

10. ENSURE SAFETY FOR ALL PARTICIPANTS

Assist everyone in understanding what’s in it for them and how they fit into the new organization.

What are the challenges you may face during Agile transformation?

Major challenges:

“Challenges are what make life fascinating; overcoming them makes life meaningful,” according to a quote. The same rule holds for Agile transformation challenges.

  • Failure to communicate agile transformation vision and strategy is another limitation. Before commencing on this path, businesses must ensure that their leaders and executives have a shared understanding of the values of agile transformation and the objectives they want to achieve.
  • One of the most challenging aspects of Agile transformation is cultural change. People refer to Agile as a shared attitude or culture rather than a set of processes. When scaling or converting Agile, this approach may be a blessing and a curse.
  • The correct scaling of agile methodologies is a severe barrier to businesses using agile techniques. Organizations that lack the proper planning, knowledge, and support mechanisms to scale sometimes rush the change process.
  • Dependencies are critical when tackling agile transformation challenges. When handling dependencies, your firm has a few options for becoming Agile. You have the first option to manage them, and the second alternative is to break them.
  • Failing to invest in your employees’ abilities is another challenge you should tackle. Talent strategy is often an afterthought in traditional firms undergoing agile transformations.
  • Obtaining buy-in is one of the most challenging aspects of agile transformation. Many businesses will begin their agile transformation in one approach, and they apply agile principles to a particular workspace vertical. In other words, they start with fewer leaders and smaller teams.
  • Failure to provide adequate support an organization must provide the necessary support for teams to operate using agile practices, including changes to core management processes, supporting tools, and coaching.
  • Not having a solid foundation to support agility is another limiting factor. Agile is a project management method regularly put to use. It’s critical to understand that implementing the agile methodology in a team necessitates modifications to crucial management processes and the supporting technologies available to the team.

How Do We Measure the Success of Agile Transformation?

Before starting with the success measures, you must first understand your organization’s need for change—the WHY. Your why could be negative or positive. Secondly, gather the baseline stats. 

Once you have these two aspects in place, you can start measuring the success of your agile transformation.

Four key pillars can help you measure the success of your agile transformation, thereby knowing if you are going in the right direction

You can mainly divide them into two categories.

Box 1: Behavior and Culture

Team Behavior

One of the first and most important pillars of success of the agile transformation is the behavior of your internal team and individuals included.

You cannot consider an agile transformation in your organization if your team members are not functioning well, are burned out, or have a high turnover rate.

The organization can determine the success of the agile transformation only if the teams are showing the agile mindset in the form of their behaviors.

Therefore if there is an improvement in the behavior of your teams, then your company culture will also change.

Culture

Another leading example of a successful agile transformation is culture. 

When you undertake a vision to deliver the value faster while transforming, it is team members who think and work differently than you will mainly benefit from during this time. 

A company culture where people are valued and prioritize work has its basis on the culture. In places where people work transparently, that’s when the agile transformation is successful.

Box 2: Productivity and Value

Productivity

To find out if you are on the right track during agile transformation, you must look at the team productivity levels. You can do this by looking at the burnup charts that include the count of features or stories. 

An increase in the productivity of your teams is a good indicator of the success of the transformation. However, it is not the only indicator of success.

Value to the Business

Finally, one of the other most important aspects of the success of the agile transformation is the value that teams deliver. The value can be in the form of the quality and quantity of the work the teams do daily. 

You can use metrics such as the business value, quality and customer satisfaction, and planning accuracy through the speed of delivery.

These are the determinants of success in Agile transformation

What Are the Examples of Successful Agile Transformation?

One of the examples of a successful agile transformation is that of Toyota. They transformed as a company and not just function as a manufacturing company. 

To quote the company president Akio Toyoda, ‘“It’s my goal to transition Toyota from an automobile company to a mobility company, and the possibilities of what we can build, in my mind, are endless.”

You can read the entire interview section and get to know their successful agile transformation story. 

You can visit the agile transformation page for more accurate and successful agile transformation stories

You will find some videos, testimonials, and case studies that depict the real-world agile transformation stories and inspire you in your agile journey. 

What Must Management Do for a Successful Agile Transformation?

Who’ll Stop the Rain

Many claim they have the key to success, but the reality is that the only way to calm this storm is to address the core issues. 

First, we must recognize that the operating model is not good, and what got us here will not get us there. 

Traditional working, learning, and measuring success will not work in the digital era.

Today most of the knowledge and power are in the hands of software developers, and customer expectations are increasingly demanding. 

Therefore, it is essential to implement a digital operating model across the organization leveraging lean management that supports agile values and principles.

Here Are the Critical First Steps:

1. Start at the Top

The Friedman-based operating model will not work. The system has nearly ruined capitalism and does not focus on organizational success. Instead, organizations need to recognize they compete in a digital economy and need to adjust or die.

2. Put Agile Back in the Lean Management System

Part of digital operations understands that agile frameworks do not work outside of lean management that values employees and customers.

3. Create Learning Organizations That Are Not Reliant on Experts

To compete in the digital era, create an environment where:

  • People understand the corporate vision
  • Enterprise leaders create flow
  • Quality delivery is measured regularly
  • Everyone learns together

Want to know more about what management must do for a successful Agile Transformation?

Check out Digital Operations, How to Survive and Thrive in the Industry 4.0 Jungle by Teri Christian.

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