Everyone is talking about agile these days. We have all heard that agile teams (either business teams or technology teams) are consistently delivering more business value, faster, and with higher levels of (end user or customer) satisfaction. Agile teams also get more done with less.
It’s a fact that agile is the smarter way to deliver many kinds of new products, whether it is an IT system or an organization change. (Especially when you’re not quite sure exactly what needs to be done or how to do it.)
But real agility is not easy. Although it is based on a set of very simple principles, agility represents a fundamentally different way of doing things. And your organization may not be ready for it. Not yet, anyway.
Achieving real agility requires a substantial commitment to education and training, new tools, a step-by-step transition plan, and gradual culture change. This commitment must start with upper level management and be communicated and supported throughout the organization, and at the same time it requires team level commitment to work differently. But most importantly, in our experience, it must not make middle management nervous, or they will put the brakes on.
Such drastic culture change is not right for every company. Organizations that don’t promote or value open communication, trust, risk-taking, empowerment of teams and individuals, and cross-functional teamwork may not be the right places for agility to succeed. This does not mean that such organizations cannot benefit from agility. Agility can be applied on a spectrum (see below).
Some projects will naturally be a better fit for agile than others. And it might make sense for your team to start with small increases in agility, and to gradually find their comfort zone on the agile spectrum.
Ultimately each organization is responsible for its own application of agility. Agile practices will always need to be customized, adapted and localized. The key to real agility is not the specific agile techniques, but the mindset of the agilists themselves.
Feel free to use our Agile Readiness Assessment as a test of your organization’s readiness for agility.
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