I can’t say I am “an experienced Agile coach” but I have seen three of them in big scale. In all three, the initiative has been from the Top (CTO, CIO, Department VP) as “Agile is the solution of the issues we are facing”. Issues can be different but more or less are always around expenses, ROI, fast delivery and also as a peer pressure since all the successful CIO/CTOs out there are benefiting from Agile tools and practices. So far so good.
Usually, the way it gets executed, it is with project/product teams.They are the first to attack since they deliver what we produce. An outside or internal person that knows about Agile, is assigned to work with delivery teams. There is some work done with Managers as well, to help them understand the new language the people will start using now on.
What I notice is, that after a while, the Top and the Bottom layers are running Agile in their own way with their own expectations, but the layers in between, Managers/Directors/AVPs, are stuck. They are still Managing details, day-to-day operations, Severity 1 issues, approve Gatings, control communications top-bottom and bottom -top, run performance improvements, …..They become bottlenecks and get very busy at it.
I think that the Top layer, needs to understand Agile delivery before they ask for it. As a rule, in an Agile delivery, you hit first the most visible/riskiest feature and then improve/add functionality on it. In an Agile transformation, this feature is seen to be Delivery process and that’s why, the whole work of the transformation is done around improving the process, making the process agile.
When I make two steps back, improving the delivery process, is the whole “product” you are delivering in a transformation. Some analysis, story mapping and story breaking need to be done, to understand what is the most visible/riskiest feature of this delivery process you will produce.
And from what I see, it is the Management layer. At the end, even the end delivery process will need to be managed!
So, I would start my Transformation with the Management layer. At the end, even in an hamburger “the meaty part” is in the middle!
I would :
This post originally appeared on When Growing Up blog on 5/8/2013.