Chapter 4: Agile Sounds Good, But – Agile Productivity Unleashed, 2nd Edition

CHAPTER 4: AGILE SOUNDS GOOD, BUT …

The decision to shift to (or even trial) a new way of doing business can be daunting for any organization. There may be inefficiencies in your current business process – and times when you wish that staff were more productive – but is this enough of an argument to forego the ‘devil you know’ in favor of unchartered territory? Moreover, even if you are convinced that your organization has room for improvement, that does not necessarily mean that moving to Agile approaches is the answer.

The most compelling argument in favor of trialing Agile approaches is the fact that it costs the organization very little to get started. All you need is one project that is small enough to influence, but important enough that its success will be meaningful to the organization. It could be a scheduled corporate event, a planned marketing campaign, a new product feature, a new customer service activity or an internal improvement initiative. Commit to trialing Agile approaches on this project for three months and monitor the progress:

  • Is the delivery team producing high business value outputs?
  • Is work being done more efficiently?
  • Are the stakeholders getting the outcomes that they need?
  • Are employees happier to be working in a high-communication environment, rather than in a documentation-centric one?
  • Is the quality of their work better than before?

If the answer to most (if not all) of these questions is yes, then that can give you sufficient confidence to consider broadening the use of Agile approaches to other activities within the organization. If the answer to these questions is no, that equally tells you about the suitability of Agile approaches within your organization (or at least their suitability for the selected project) – without requiring the organization to walk away from a huge upfront investment.

Agile principles encourage organizations to work with tangible outputs instead of theoretical ideas, prototypes and analysis reports. Equally, the benefits of Agile approaches are best demonstrated by their active use and measurement within an organization, rather than by any argument that can be made in this book. None of the theoretical discussions in the world is going to convince an organization about how powerful these approaches are in the same way that their hands-on use will.