January 24, 2017

Agile is not a software thing. Its a problem-solving thing.

People always as ask me if agile is just for software. Saying agile is just about software is like saying software is just about science. Initially, computer science was about replacing manual processes. Now, it’s about creating human experiences. Building human experiences needs to extend beyond science alone. It’s an art that requires us to solve complex human behavioural problems. Art requires creativity, and creativity is exponentially higher when combined with collaboration and social learning. Scrum teams help us unleash our collective creativity by forcing the team to constantly identify new problems and multiple solutions to those problems.

So, back to the question: Is agile just for software? No way. In my opinion, agile is all about problem solving – it helps us fix complex problems where the answer isn’t readily available, and it helps us be more decisive (for more on agile and decision making, read my last blog).

When organizations – large or small – want to serve their customers better, an agile framework is a powerful tool to equip everybody in the organization to deliver solutions faster. At Scotiabank we’re undergoing a massive change – not only in our technology, but also in the way we solve problems. Although we’re a domain expert in banking we know our customers are always changing and so is the world around us. We can’t pretend to have the answers for every possible scenario, and so we need to condition ourselves to be increasingly nimble and reactive. It’s no longer the user learning the software; it’s the software learning about the needs of the user. At the Scotiabank Digital Factory, the combination of agile and design thinking is helping us continually experiment and explore what is possible, and help us understand what our customers are struggling with by learning directly from them. Agile is a key enabler to incorporating that feedback & learning rapidly to validate our solutions for the problem at-hand... and ultimately get the next version into our customers’ hands faster.


In a large organization like ours, it’s not only about the teams building software. We’re working across the organization to speed up the way we bring things to market. A major piece of that puzzle is removing impediments that slow us down. Here’s one example: We’re bringing groups like Risk, Compliance and Audit into the teams that are building software for our customers. This keeps everybody at the table, helping us ensure we’re building all the ‘must-haves’ into customer solutions in small increments from Day One and protecting us against undue risks. By bringing everybody into a close, tight-knit circle and allowing that team the autonomy to make decisions, we’re able to use agility to solve customer problems – quickly. That’s not about software at all – it’s a people thing.

 

About Scotiabank’s Digital Factory

The Digital Factory is a hub for creation and incubation of new and partner-led ideas to deliver game-changing solutions for Scotiabank customers. The Digital Factory is a cornerstone of Scotiabank's digital transformation, and is focused on reinventing how banking serves people by first reinventing the way we work.