If someone can give you the answer easily for: What is Agile Transformation? And how do we do? I bet that they don’t completely understand the question or don’t have enough experience. Transformation or change in a group or organization is always a challenge. It is complex work and needs a lot of effort. The un-knows are anywhere, and uncertainty can affect your success or failure. Every transformation journey is unique, so that we can’t copy and reuse it for another one.
My experience while I do the consult and support many organizations transform to Agile, I find out that many corners need to be cared for: Business, people, culture, operations, and so on. Every corner has challenges, roadblocks, risks that can impact the transformation journey.
So, I collected five essential things which you can consider and care about. I hope that can help you in your transformation journey.
Invest in understanding the values of Agile.
You should not transform because your competitor did (Seems like this is ridiculous, but one of my clients told me he wants to transform because the competitor transformed?!), or because Agile is a trend?!!
Starting the journey with an uncertain vision will go nowhere. My advice here for the leader of an organization and team that wants to do Agile Transformation, is that you should spend your time and effort to understand the benefit of Agile and answer these questions by yourself: Why does your organization need to adopt Agile? What are the values your business will get from Agile? How does Agile help your product or organization advance?
Once you are clear about why you had a goal, you could create several strategies to reach the goal, which is suitable and valuable to your company.
"Every transformation journey is unique so that we can’t copy and reuse it for the other."
Start a transformation with a pilot team or the whole organization?
There is nothing right or wrong here if you want the whole company to transform simultaneously. Still, before you choose this way, you need to consider: Adopting Agile, or transformation needs an experience and adaptation because it's complex. It requires each individual and team together to create a new way of work and culture. Unprepared strategy, or underestimating the challenges, will increase complex situations many times. Start with the core team, support them to answer: What is the right mindset and behaviors for the Agile team? What is a new way of working that is good for your organization? And expanding it out step by step later on can be a good strategy.
Have the right people in the transformation team.
If you start with the core team for transformation, you should consider having the right team member to create a new way of working. Below are some points:
- Have a passion for agile transformation: People with high passion will help spark and inspire others.
- Have knowledge about Agile: you don’t want people in your Agile transformation team lacking knowledge about Agile, right?
- Cross-functional team: competencies need to form a self-managed team.
Having the right people is critical, which can be a good start or end of your transformation journey.
Build up the channels and strategy for communication.
During the journey of transformation, share and communicate the value of Agile or transparence the status of the journey is essential. Many teams or organizations have been mistaken about this. Below is some on top of that:
- Communicate that this is not a campaign: You create the campaign, meeting, workshops, or even the company visit to learn from other successful companies, and so on. Then you wait to see the change, rarely the change happens, or nothing effect; or even you will get this message: “Now I know, Agile does not work here!” or “Agile is for IT, it will not work in our industry/domain!”. In my opinion, please don’t create the campaign and let it go; keep follow up, inspect, adapt, keep share and listening. It is a journey!
- Don't forget about or leave behind the middle managers: One of the challenges is when middle managers do not support the transformation. Why don't they? Many reasons, including: They don’t see their future in the new structure. Or simply is they don’t trust it. Instead of leaving them behind, you will see that, don’t have their support, which means that you lost the solid bridge for the rest of the employees. To have middle managers contribute to the transformation, we should support them to understand the value of Agile and invite them to be a part of the journey.
- Another communication point is less interaction between the top management with the rest: You should have two ways of communication to connect to people, talk and listen to them, care for each individual, keep everybody up to date, and respond to them. When you have channels to help you to share the information, have the support from middle managers. It would help if you also had the receive feedback channels; then, you can inspect, adapt, and respond to the need of people.
Business effectiveness during the transformation
Transformation is complex; it can create a harmful impact on business and pull you down. Many unknown things are waiting for you and your decision. How can you know which is a good solution? Empiricism will help you. I used Scrum to help the organization create the empirical process for their transformation. By that, they can make the current situation transparent, inspect and adapt the transformation journey of themself while business status is always considering.
Whatever the model you transform to is, the purpose is to make your organization reach a higher goal by delivering outstanding value to customers. Therefore, once you kick start the transformation, it would be best to balance your business and transformation. You need to keep track of what you need to do and the impact of that. Remember that Agile Transformation is an endless journey; therefore, creating the model to help you keep everything transparent, inspection, and adaptation is essential.
Transformation is challenging and complex. Every decision always has pros and cons, like two sides of the coin. This isn't limited to the five things I shared above. Therefore, knowing your purpose is essential, and that’s the key. Besides that, preparing well and having the right strategy to face complexity and uncertainty is crucial. Again, The transformation is not a destiny; that is the journey.