As most people see agile development through the blinders that it is only for software development, they miss out on so much value, excitement and success in other areas. Even if the tasks are repetitive or that there are no real initiatives to create new products, using agile values in the workplace can still help.
The most prominent improvement organizations will see improved employee satisfaction. Creating an agile culture will change how employees view work. No longer could they be dragging themselves into the workplace to put in an ordinary day; the stewardship given to the teams to do work better will provide some motivation. Having the teams work through making it better instead of waiting for management to do something will make the job more satisfying.
How to Use an Agile Workflow to Grow Your Business
An agile transformation is something that will provide some anxiety, mostly in an area outside of the perceived use of agile. Oleg details how he got through the transformation on the business side of things, and he provided these six steps.
STEP 1: EXPLORE THE AGILE CONCEPT UP AND DOWN
This step is critical for any successful transformation. Without understanding what it is or going in with misconceptions will not create a great starting point. Imagine starting a race without knowing the start line or how to get across the finish line. While exploring the concepts, it would also be an excellent time to start a Value Stream map of how things are and what you want to see in the end. This exercise will add to clarity and eventual success.
STEP 2: CHECK OUT PRECAUTIONS AND CHALLENGES
Change management 101, without knowing the path ahead, will lead to surprises and a strong potential for defeat. In the first step, I suggested doing a Value Stream Analysis. This exercise will provide the organization with enough information to see where potential pitfalls are. In this step, it is advisable to do a SWOT analysis. SWOT combined with Value Stream will not only determine the start and finish lines; it will also give you a robust mode of getting through the path to achieving success.
STEP 3: DRAFT A KICK-OFF PLAN
This step is a team effort. It should not be a couple of people in a room driving out the plan of attack. Oleg gives an example of a food processing plant that did the transformation, and they built out a team to drive out the plan with risks, mitigation and success criteria. In the end, they achieved a 90% improvement in their inventory process. Yes, one of the agile tenets is Responding to change over following plan, and it is the team needs to be adaptive and responsive to change. That does not mean they have a guide ora map to get to where they need to go. There is more than one path to get to a destination.
STEP 4: BUILD A SHARED VISION
As you can see, each step leads and builds onto each other. Not only does a transformation need buy-in, but it also requires a shared belief of where to go. Having the same vision will only make the plan and path more comfortable to navigate. There will be troubles along the way. It is how the team deals with those troubles is what matters, and having that shared vision will give them the drive to succeed.
STEP 5: ADOPT EXPERIMENTATION AND CONTINUOUS LEARNING AT ALL LEVELS
Fail fast, identify risks early, react to change and to work through the work. For an organization to succeed at being agile, it is about everyone in the organization using agile values, not just the teams on the floor. Senior leadership, as well needs to be agile. Without that, it is like driving a paired car race where both cars need to cross the finish line simultaneously, and the two vehicles are a Corvette and Chevette. Eventually, you will cross; unfortunately, there will be a lot of wasted horsepower getting there.
STEP 6: SHIFT FROM AUTHORITY TO PARTNERSHIP
No more Command and Control. It is more about supporting and trusting the teams to get the work done with the vision and guidance of senior leadership to get them there. This organizational view is a shift that can be difficult for leaders under the old hierarchical ways of corporate life. This is why step 1 is so important. Getting that understanding of what it means to be agile and espousing the values will make step 6 easy.
The transformation process is a never-ending journey. Yes, we talked about plans with a defined beginning and end, yet when you get to the end, you will find that there is another world to explore and new paths to take. It is an inspiring journey.