What is Agile?
Agile is a way to improve a team’s overall capability to deliver tangible results, such as faster growth and higher profits, quickly. It helps to (a) reduce time to market new products and services, (b) respond to changes quickly, (c) improve customer satisfaction, and (d) reduce risks, substantially.
Agile companies have been found to grow revenue 37% faster and generate 30% higher profits (p.4). This is the reason why many organizations and teams are moving to Agile, and why shouldn’t they? Who would not like to grow faster and earn more profit by delivering products and services quicker, responding to changes, improving customer satisfaction and reducing risks for their projects/business?
There are several methodologies such as Scrum, Kanban and XP under the Agile umbrella that teams use to improve their capabilities of delivering products and services. Though Scrum and XP are commonly used in product development (mostly software), Kanban is used in service delivery within IT, and outside of IT too. All such methodologies implement Agile principles through several Agile practices.
Transforming to Agile
There are several ways for teams to transform to Agile. Most teams read books and start implementing Agile practices based on knowledge gained from them. Though this is the quickest way to get started, very soon teams start facing challenges and they don’t see the results that Agile can create such as faster delivery times, improved throughput, and higher profits. Then, they may get some training and/or bring in an experienced Scrum Master or Agile coach to help them work through challenges and achieve the results. The teams that are not able to get training or coaching continue to struggle. They may or may not see any benefits even after a long time doing trial and error, and that may be okay for them.
Moving to Agile is a huge transformation since it needs a cultural change in the entire organization. Doing such a transformation in bits and pieces won’t work; it needs a strong Agile leader or champions, solid planning, and investment of money and time. The best way to get transformed to Agile is to plan for it, identify at least one person within the organization as Agile champion who has the knowledge, experience and capability to lead such a huge cultural change, and then let the Agile champion work with teams and transform them to Agile. Hiring an Agile coach will help accelerate the entire transformation with minimized pain.