The Secret Sauce to Lead Enterprise Agile Transformation
By Parikshit Basrur, Senior Manager, Agile Initiatives, IT Systems & Services, Consumer Australia | Group IT
In today’s world, Agile is a common term in business and technology; it is synonymous with innovation, digital, or even disruption. The number of organisations embarking on their Agile journey is growing year-on-year, and, Senior Executives are facing a new challenge —What is the secret sauce for leading enterprise Agile transformation?
1. Right Type of Leadership
Leading Agile successfully requires more, besides a combination of technical and communication skills: it demands a business feel for the organisation, its people and culture.
It is, therefore, often seen that with successful transformations ‘a leader emerges’. How do you, as senior executives, know who to choose? Below are four qualities that act as a guideline are — Ability to clearly articulate and communicate the vision to create desire for change — Mastery in “strategic selling” in an advisory role, guiding and supporting stakeholders— Practical wisdom to know which strategy to apply why, how and when—Patience and courage to demonstrate long-term success in your organisation. However, having the right person to lead the transformation is only the first step towards success. The next thing is being able to design and execute the right enterprise Agile adoption model for you.
2. Right Level of Enterprise Adoption
Benchmarking your organisation’s current state and understanding the appetite for risk and investment in change creates the roadmap to achieve the future state.
There are four maturity levels at which Agile may be adopted in an enterprise —
Level1 - Product Development : Metrics = Quality, Velocity
Level 2 - Delivery : Projects, Products and Services : Metrics = Time to Market
Level 3 - Portfolio : Metrics = Value, Return on Investment, Cost of Delay
Level 4 - Organisation : Metrics = Market Innovation, Culture and Mindset
As a senior executive, before embarking on your Agile journey, you need to answer the next two questions: Why is this important to me? What risk am I prepared to take?
Answering these will stir the next two steps, not only potentially saving you millions of dollar in sunk costs, it will also save your reputation from being tarnished as being “burnt by Agile”.
3. Right Approaches to Execution
You’ve identified the right leader and assessed your desired level of agile adoption. How do you execute this road map? Below are three approaches to execution, each suited to the right level and nature of leadership and adoption level with its corresponding risks and benefits. Effectiveness of the execution approach is directly proportional to the maturity of leadership and adoption levels, i.e. weak leadership and low adoption levels are best suited for — which requires a broader cultural perspective. —Where there is a large dependency for additional consulting and guidance for executives.. — and lastly, what works when there is short ramp-up time combined with a high visibility and expectations to create cultural change.
4.Making it Stick
And finally, how do you make it stick? This is the hardest challenge of all. There has to be a burning desire to change and buy-in from key stakeholders to support the transformation. The answer is to start small and take a pilot approach to learn and continuously strive to achieve the next level of adoption, until it becomes mainstream and the new normal; the new business . Achieving this state may take decades but it is worth it because you will leave behind a legacy, a piece of work that will inspire others in years to come.