Your initial investment into applying agile processes has revealed
amazing results: collaboration
between stakeholders; a more
highly engaged technical staff; and
most importantly, increased customer satisfaction that positively
influences the bottom line.
Agile adoption has been such a
favorable experience for everyone
that the plan is now to roll it out
across the entire organization. So
how does one roll out an enterprise process that at its core speaks
about small, self-organizing,
Some of the most prevalent
methods for scaling agile are
scrum of scrums, disciplined agile
delivery, and scaled agile framework. All of these methods have
strong virtues, and we typically
incorporate best practices from
each of them into our approach.
But having participated in many
scaling implementations, our agile
coaches have found that out-of-the-box solutions are rarely a perfect fit.
In the words of Bruce Lee, “Adapt what is useful, reject what
is useless, and add what is specifically your own.” Standard
methodologies can provide principles, tools and techniques.
However, enterprise level adoption requires a roadmap specific
to a company’s culture, a degree of maturity, and the distance
between the current and desired levels of agile practice.
With that being said, there is one universal principle that is
critical to ensure success—creating a collaborative organization.
Collaboration is one of the foundational values of agile. It inspires innovation, improves quality, and increases engagement.
A collaborative organization removes barriers between business units and IT, as well as management and staff, so everyone
embraces the vision of an organizational investment and the business value it will create. It gets everyone on the same page so they
move toward a common goal. Some mechanisms that can aid in
creating this kind of collaboration are release planning meetings,
synchronized sprints, and a positive attitude toward failures.
Release planning meetings are enterprise level events. The
team includes more than the individual scrum teams. It also
includes executive sponsors, business unit management, infrastructure support, IT delivery and operations, marketing, and
anyone that is part of developing and deploying the solution.
During this meeting, the executive sponsor explains why this investment is being made and its business value. It exposes the team to
the corporate vision and lets them hear it directly from the visionary.
The enterprise architect presents the architectural vision and
common framework. This ensures the solutions are more easily
maintained and in line with organizational constraints such as
target architecture, security, and regulatory concerns.
The remainder of the meeting is spent breaking down the
project and organizing the program- and team-level backlogs.
Risks, issues, and dependencies can be brought to the attention
of other team members and resolved.
Now that everyone has a shared vision and game plan, the
next hurdle is to make sure everyone moves together toward
the end goal. We use synchronized sprints to help keep teams
aligned. Developing and delivering on the same schedule helps to
reduce wait time and delays, but more importantly it allows for
continuous integration of team deliveries into the whole.
The ability to provide frequent integrated system demonstrations gives sponsors an opportunity to accept, adapt, or eliminate
functionality as it is created. This allows sponsors to potentially
ship products sooner if value has been created for the end user.
As you embrace your newfound collaborative organization,
you will need to embrace failure. Collaboration leads to creativity and innovation. This often creates increased value and quality, but not every new idea will work. Stifling creativity can rob
your organization of many rewards and damage team morale.
For that reason we use retrospectives to talk as a team about
what didn’t work, why it didn’t work, and how we can do it
better. By embracing failure, we can create a culture of transparency and continuous improvement which will ultimately benefit
both our processes and products.
Adopting agile at the enterprise level will be an evolutionary
process that is unique to your organization and its goals. Standard
methodologies can provide you with great tools and techniques.
However, the foundational principle of creating a collaborative
organization should be your first step on the path to success. ITA
Sujey Edward, is vice president of Salient‘s Agile Center of
Excellence. Janeen Blanton is vice president with Salient
Create a Collaborative Culture
Bringing agile development across the enterprise requires new roadmap.
By Sujey Edward and Janeen Blanton