What a blast Agile 2019 was this year. We met some amazing new people and re-connected with fantastic customers. Agile 2019 really brings together the tenured Agilists, along with those just starting to dip their toes into Agile practices and principles. This coming together of knowledge is what makes the event such a great place to refresh, learn, and grow.
Our mantra during the conference was “Shift Happens.” No matter where you are in your transformation, shift does happen, whether you are shifting from project-driven work to product-driven work or from a traditional PMO to an Agile PMO, how you handle the shift, is up to you.
Looking back at last week’s conference, I learned a lot and had some great conversations. What’s really cool is that as Agile expands both outward to the rest of the business and upward to connect teams with teams of teams (Agile Release Trains), a ton of new people come into the fold (either new roles or new parts of the business), so no conversation was the same, but I felt there were three distinct groups of people I chatted with.
1. Those tip-toeing into Agile (and some Lean) practices and principles.
I loved engaging with this group of people because it brought me back to the basics of Agile, which is always refreshing. Some of these folks might be part of the PMO or those that work in that organization who are now in the position to support Agile and shepherd in new ways of working. It’s this group that also benefits from understanding how to run a Lean organization. Not only do they need to understand the practices, principles, and ceremonies their Agile delivery groups adhere to, but they also need to start understanding what it means to do Lean budgeting and set in motion the use of Lean business cases to determine how to fund differently. The resounding theme in this group was people shifting from project-driven work to more product-driven work—moving from waterfall to Agile or milestone driven to more iterative releases.
When I spoke to folks just tip-toeing into Agile, their struggles were more with understanding how to work with current Agile teams—how do we get visibility into the work in process, and how do we insert ourselves into the Agile ceremonies that are in place in pockets of the organization? They embrace the continuous learning, release, and feedback loops associated with Agile and clearly want to jump all in. No matter what, those tip-toeing into Agile practices and principles need the basics of Agile and Lean, and ultimately, this entire group of people is driven to learn more, which was a lot of fun to see. For this group, they were hesitant (rightly so) to get a tool that is hard to use or “too Agile”. We spent a great deal of time looking at how Planview LeanKit offers what they need right now, but also allows for growth (Scrum, Kanban, Scrumban, hybrid, etc.) in the future.
2. Those scaling Agile. These people have done Agile in pockets but now they need to figure out how to connect and grow Agile vertically, while maintaining the goodness that comes from scaling from a grassroots Agile perspective into a more mature Agile enterprise.
Wow. This group is hungry for better ways of connecting across the organization. Most of the people I talked to that fell into this bucket were in IT and/or Software Development, which makes sense. Over the last several years, as Agile expands in these departments, there are many different planning and tracking tools available (JIRA, ADO, Rally, etc.). The main problem they were having now though, is connecting all those tools and getting any non-Agile delivery groups on board. In speaking with this group, most were doing Program Increment (PI) or Quarterly Planning, and trying to connect all the teams into Agile Release Trains or teams of teams. I didn’t need to spend time educating them on Agile or Lean but instead, we discussed how Planview Agile Scaler can help them connect all those disparate Agile delivery teams into LeanKit for a board of boards view, showing cross-team dependencies and allowing teams to continue to work in the tools they desire in the methods that work the best for them.
3. People trying to connect their organization’s strategic goals and objectives through to the Agile delivery teams.
Those in this group were much fewer, but the complexity of their issues were immense. People in this bucket are trying to make the product shift, do value stream funding, and enable Lean Portfolio Management. As organizations reap the benefits of faster time to market and customer satisfaction through scaling Agile delivery, they want to expand that ability and benefit even higher up the organizational planning stack.
Organizations today cannot continue to fund 12-18 month projects, that may or may not deliver value in the end. They need the ability to fund value streams and ensure the work delivered is aligned to organizational goals and objectives. The bottom line is even more pertinent today in the world of start-ups and customer demands. I also talked to a number of people that are starting down the path of connecting strategy to Agile delivery but need to do so in the context of a “journey.” They aren’t going to flip a switch tomorrow and change the organization overnight. We know this and have built a solution that embraces new ways of working, while allowing the other parts of the organization to shift over time. We fully support your transformation on your terms and timeline and strive to be your advisor and partner on the journey to becoming a Lean-Agile enterprise.
So, where do you fit? Are you just getting started, trying to scale Agile, or trying to connect strategy to delivery? Remember, your organization could be in all three buckets, as Agile tends to start grassroots in various departments or lines of business. That’s okay.
Ultimately, we’re here to help you shift your organization to be product-driven. Download “The Ultimate Lean and Agile Software Solution Buyer’s Guide” to understand the software capabilities your organization needs for a successful Agile transformation, along with a purchase worksheet to compare vendors and find the one that is best suited for your organization.