Why is agile not working for your organisation?

Tayla Jade Boni

Agile is the new normal, why has it not worked in your organisation ?

The ModelOps decision process
Why is agile not working for your organisation alt

Agile is the new normal; why has it not worked in your organisation ? Agile is used by hundreds and thousands of professionals globally, which is testimony to how these foundations have been implemented successfully, especially today, where industries are exposed to continuously changing business needs and technological advancements. Many organisations want to initiate an Agile transformation to take advantage of a flexible, collaborative, self-organising, and speedily evolving environment. 

But why are some of these organisations having trouble implementing Agile 

Any agile transformation requires coaching, change management, and alignment to the agile principles and methodologies. However, some organisations tend to overlook this and ignore the transition from beginner to expert, much like any transformation. Change is not something that will happen overnight, so organisations should encourage small incremental milestones that are achieved continuously to transition change into their environment. In itself, it is agile! 

Manage the change process 

Poor change management and resistance to change is likely the root cause of many failures within organisations. In this day and age, change is inevitable. Organisations cannot afford to be stuck in rigid processes and be hesitant to adapt to these changes; else they risk losing a competitive advantage within their market. Once your organisation has decided to transition into an agile environment, one of the first things you should do is training on the agile values, principles, and even the methodologies practiced. This is critical to ensure that your organisation (both business and technical) are aligned and buy into this transition. People are less likely to resist change if you ease this process and get their support. If your organisation does not see the value that agile offers, you will have trouble trying to influence them and transition successfully.

It is essential to help your employees understand agile through self-understanding or experiences rather than trying to get them to memorize each value and principle alike. Another reason agile may not be working for your organisation is that you are not agile. We have worked with numerous organisations and teams who are very quick to call themselves Agile, but the only Agile thing they do is a daily standup meeting or a Kanban board. While each Agile element and ceremony hold merit individually, you will not leverage agile's full capability until you have implemented it holistically. Again, this will not happen overnight. When implementing agile in your organisation, you need to take the right approach. Much like learning any new skill, there are different ways to learn and master. 

Agile board with stick notes


Start small in your journey

A popular approach that has been used by organisations is the Shu-Ha-Rhi approach. This approach is useful as it allows you to bed the basics down in stone and starts experimenting with new ideas. Ultimately by experimenting, you will find something that works well for your organisation; this could be a specific practice or the creation of your way of doing things. And doesn't that speak to agility in itself? Instead of forcing your business to follow a strict practice that limits you, be flexible, and adjust what is not working to suit your organisational needs. By taking this approach and bedding it down with firm agile principles that are understood by your teams as your foundation, you are only setting yourself up for success and discovering areas that need improvement within your organisation. Unfortunately, one cannot buy agile. The transformation to an agile environment requires both a shift in organisational mindset and culture. 

Support the transition top down 

To implement agile successfully, we advise the following transformation rules:

  1. Ensure that your organisational values and model are aligned to support the transformation.
  2. Ensure that your organisation is aligned on the value agile has to offer and that you have buy-in from enthusiastic leaders who can help transform and influence this change.
  3. Ensure that you have a strong change management approach to help the transition ease for your employees.

Understand that significant change should not happen overnight. Focus on small changes that help showcase the value agile offers the organisation. Be flexible with your transformation. Although agile has proven successful in many environments, what works for one may not work for all. Experiment with different techniques to find one that is best suited for your organisation's needs.

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