Pillar of stones

The Agile Transformation Game – Organizing for Stability

Enterprise Transformations are a great game. From the starting line, what do I need to do to transform

Enterprise Transformations are a great game. From the starting line, what do I need to do to transform my Enterprise into a lean, agile shop? Which Scaled Agile Model is right for me? What change can the Enterprise absorb quickly? What are the key aspects for creating a sustainable lean, agile Transformation model? How do I budget and staff for a transformation? What makes it work? Last, Whatai??i??s in it for me and the Enterprise?

Armed with your list of pain points, you can use this and the following articles as a high level guide to selecting and implementing a Scaled Agile Method that would be a best fit for your Enterprise.

Choose a Scaling Method that is sustainable for a long time ai??i?? what options are available to me?

Agile practices have been in mainstream use for about 16 years now, with real traction in major companies for at least the last 10 years to some degree or another. Scaling methods are relatively new, most either evolving from older iterative methods, or springing up new in the last 5 years or so. Despite their relative new-ness, these methods are finding great acceptance with large and global corporations who for the most part found shortcomings with SCRUM practices for small teams not meeting the needs of large scale corporate efforts.

Climbing, Scaling

Considering the cost, involvement and effort to make the transition, choose a method that will be sustainable for a minimum of 5 years and may be in place for as long as 20 years. Also assure that the chosen method allows or future flexibility and growth along with the Enterpriseai??i??s needs.Ai?? Some of the most commonly available and practical models to choose from are:

  • Disciplined Agile Delivery – DAD
  • Scaled Agile Framework – SAFe
  • Large Scale Scrum – LeSS
  • Hybrids of in-house methods and selected practices from the methods mentioned above

Later in this series, we will do some side by side comparisons. So where to start?

Gauge the Ability of the Enterprise to Accept Change

So you think you want to start down the path of change. Letai??i??s begin with the ability of the Enterprise to accept and adapt to change. Some questions immediately come to mind.

Will there be any major barriers to change, and what might they be?Ai??How big and diverse is my Enterprise, and what is the culture like regarding accepting change? Who will be impacted and how?

Answers to questions like these will determine the size and scope and timing of the Transformation. You will find that some of the answers to these questions, like the ability to accept change within the Enterprise, will set upper limits to how fast you can go, or if you can go at all. Geographic and demographic issues pop up, in-place agile efforts underway may need consideration or change, failed agile efforts may be an impediment.

How you structure the Transformation teams may also be a limiting factor. A 5-person team tackling a 2000-person Enterprise is likely to take a long time. Getting a handle on the size and scope of the Transformation is a great start.

Find a sponsor “Way Up” in the Enterprise

You have decided to move forward, so you will need executive sponsorship to assure this program is visible, funded and a priority. Find a sponsor who is one of the decision makers regarding the Enterprise, someone at the Enterprise level, not a department or a division. Expect that you need more than one – people who are valuable will move on, you will need replacements and these transformations can span one or more years so it is always wise to cultivate more than one sponsor.

Build a Fulcrum Upon Which You Can Leverage Change

Per Archimedes ai???Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum upon which to place it, and I shall move the worldai???. You cannot do this transformation alone. Even the most determined person is typically outmatched by the effort to change their world, so get help.

FulcrumPhoto

I recommend two groups, a Steering Committee to set direction for the Transformation and a Delivery Group to get the Transformation done. These two groups can become the fulcrum upon which you can lever your Enterprise.

Steering Committee

Create a Steering Committee made up of key affected staff with a strong interest or a stake in the success of the Transformation project whose sole focus is Agile Transformation by the Enterprise. This group of individuals (usually a cross functional management team who has the Accountability, the Authority and the Responsibility to get things done) is responsible for:

  • General operating policy, procedures, and related matters affecting the Agile Transformation as a whole
  • Defining Operation, Scope and Venue of the Transformation

All participants act as champions of the Agile Transformation whenever and wherever possible. They as senior managers are key message bringers who deliver the ai???top downai??? portions of the messaging from the change management plan.

In terms of Operation, they:

  • Set Goals and boundaries for the Transformation Process
  • Set Objectives for the Transformation project with a one-year horizon
  • Meet as required to provide guidance to Adopter Groups
  • Acts as SDM Change Management clearinghouse for changes
  • Spin off working committees to address significant matters that affect change in the Enterprise

Hereai??i??s a potential structure for a steering committeeai??i??

Committee
Delivery Team

In addition to the Steering Committee, you also need a bunch of ai???Doersai??? who get ai???stuffai??? done. (ai???Stuffai??? is the technical term I use regularly for all the messaging, change management, toolsmithing, templates, mentoring, coaching that takes place as the key transition activities of the Transformation).

The Delivery teamai??i??s makeup is mostly technical and consulting in nature as they are the delivery mechanism for all the ai???Stuffai??? required by the Enterprise making the transition to Agile.

The Delivery teamai??i??s major deliverables are:

A hint about these two groups, if the lead of the Enterprise Transformation heads both committees, you have a built in communications device for making sure that what is decided is implemented.

Attach your Fulcrum Teams to a Very Visible Enterprise Level Group

Now that you have your teams mobilized, insert them into the workstream of the Enterprise at the right level. Choose a visible and important internal Enterprise to attach the Enterprise Transformation effort. This Enterprise Level Groups is likely aligned with your executive sponsor, like an Enterprise PMO Group, or the Office of the CIO. A transformation of this type is normally highly visible and needs to be supported by the Executive management and given the visibility and priority it deserves.

Get a realistic budget for the first year

“Money makes the world go round” – Money from Cabaret

You need a competent budget. Or, another way to look at is it TANSTAAFL ai??i?? There Ainai??i??t No Such Thing as a Free Lunchai???. And yes, to mis-quote Midas (The muffler people, not the King with the Golden Touch, ai???You are going to pay a LOT for this mufflerai???. So get your moneyai??i??s worth from the effort.

Expect to pay for:

  • Training
    • For the Steering Committee
    • For the Delivery Group
    • For the staff being transformed
    • For other interested parties in the Enterprise touched by this transformation
  • Cost of Full Time Staff who do the transformation
    • Steering Committee
    • Delivery Group
    • Other supporting areas like purchasing, legal and others
  • Consulting
    • Likely you do not have these transformation skills in house
    • Good Mentors and coaches do not come cheap, bad ones do
  • Licensing for Methods
    • There is potential that selecting a specific Method may require some licensing fees
  • Licensing for (new?) tools
    • Unless you already have development platform tools with agile support, you may end up licensing new tools
    • Infrastructure for tools support
    • Time and effort to customize the tools to match the new Agile Method(s)

Set expectations of how long you may be at this effort, and how much it may cost. Delivery Team, training resources and budget are limiting factors and affect how fast can you go, and therefore how long will it take.

Plan to Live in a “Glass House”

Some advice, one of the most often asked questions I get is ai???If I have to adopt this, why arenai??i??t you? Expect that if evGlass Houseeryone else has to adopt agile tools and processes – you better do so too.

Also plan for transparency on all issues good and bad. Better you air your dirty laundry about successes and failures than others doing it for you. That way, you have a better chance of controlling the messaging that gets out surrounding failures.

Consider the End Goal

Last, envision what the Enterprise will look like in 2,3 5 years after the transformation – what will you gain for the effort? How far does the Transformation go? Ai??Write it down in a vision. 1 ai??i?? 3 pages long, take the major components and put them in a roadmap by Quarter for at least the first year and now you are ready to begin.

Develop Measures to define ai???Doneai???

A definition of ai???Doneai??? that we can all agree upon is also a key to success, you are not done until you are done. This will be important for long term adoption programs. What is the goal and how are we measuring progress (or lack of) against our goal.

Ok, this blog is DONE. Look for the next one in our series.

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