How time flies

by | Jul 31, 2020

This week we are celebrating one year as Berriault and Associates Consulting Group. They always say the first year of a new business is probably the most difficult one. Well, the end of 2019 and the beginning of 2020 decided to take it to the extreme. I think climbing Mount Everest would have been much more straightforward than starting a business in the current climate.

As we are now about to end our first year, we are excited to close the year on healthy and look forward to the next. As with the organizations we work with, our agile values, behaviors, and actions have allowed us to adapt to the changing demands with relative ease to continue to meet our clients’ needs.

As I look back on the discussions I have had over the year; there is one thing that stuck out. With all the talks of agile delivery, whether it is a product or service, it has not entirely resonated and created the proper organizational culture. More than a few times, I have heard, “Our agile development is fine,” and yet the more I listen to it, the more I look at stats that say otherwise.

I have mentioned in previous blogs how many organizations that say they follow agile values and principles have difficulty in maturing their delivery. There is a small set of organizations that have succeeded in making the organization as a whole agile. Even large organizations like Google and Microsoft have taken great lengths to create an agile culture to flourish. Part of the problem is that there is a narrow focus on what agile delivery means. Senior leaders only focus on the teams that do the actual development of products: Developer, QA, Product managers, architects, etc.… and they don’t focus on themselves and others within the organization.

There is an archaic mindset of “command and control” that is rooted in this issue. “Do as I say and not as I do” mentality is something that is creating frustrations on any agile development. These leaders are telling employees to do agile when they are not. That is even worse for any agile organization. To Paraphrase Jeff Dalton, “It is not about doing agile; it is about being agile.”

There is so much potential being left on the table for organizations to succeed more than they thought it is a little mind-boggling. When I did my MBA from early 2010 to 2013, I admit that there were some courses and readings that had a “command and control” feel. Yet, there were more readings and discussions about the new way of leading—giving employees more empowerment to do their job—giving them ownership of the organization’s direction and success. In doing stuff like that, a leader becomes more robust and can become a more strategic planner for everyone’s betterment, including clients and shareholders.

There is a lot of misconceptions that following Scrum, extreme programming, LeSS, SAFe, a hybrid of them or any new methodology that comes along makes them an agile organization. That is wrong. Yes, these methods will provide some efficiency and speed when creating products, yet in the end, they will plateau as doing agile will only take them so far. All these different methods are no different than apps that run on phones, tablets or computers; they all need an Operating System to run smoothly. This OS, like on our electronics, needs to improve continuously so that the apps can improve. For organizations, the culture is that OS. Leadership needs to keep that OS updated and functioning so that the delivery of any product or service is efficient and of high quality to meet those who use it.

How do we make that change? Change the culture, which is easier said than done. Going through change is not an easy thing to do. Luckily organizations that are doing agile are in a place where incremental changes are the norm, and they will see that small changes will grow over time. The benefits will come in short order.

As we close out our first year, our purpose for being is more substantial now then that initial day in 2019 when we opened for business. We want organizations to see that untapped value that is left on the table for them to exploit. We are here to open the door and show them the vast potential they will experience.

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