Now that Agile methods have become mainstream in parts of the world, it’s appropriate to reassess our goals and approach in the spirit of uncovering better ways of doing things.
In this very spirit, I had the privilege of meeting with Phil Brock, Ray Arell, and Steve Denning recently in Portland to ponder the relationship between Agile software development and enterprise Agility, now that building software solutions has evolved into an enterprise capability. It’s not so much a question of expanding the scope of Agile beyond software development as it is embracing the Agile Mindset and Agile’s core principles and practices in all aspects of the enterprise software development capability.
Going into this two-day workshop sponsored by Agile Alliance, our basic premise was this: a key opportunity is scaling Agile into the organizational domain so that the benefits that come from Agile software development principles can be fully realized in an integrated manner at all levels of the enterprise. In effect, we have discovered that Agile thinking is not exclusively for software development and IT organizations, but rather (it) can provide a competitive advantage to any organization. It is a change in the way that the whole organization thinks, is led and managed. Indeed, Agility and the Agile Mindset have emerged from Agile’s core principles and practices.
We believe that the Agile Mindset has four basic characteristics:
#ValueMatters – An obsession with continuously adding value for customers.
#SmallMatters – Relentless focus on descaling work so that small batches of work are performed by small teams in small cycles with continuous feedback from customers.
#EcosystemMatters – The Agile ecosystem is the entire organization, not just IT. The Agile ecosystem cannot flourish and enterprise Agility cannot be realized if the entire organization doesn’t embrace the Agile Mindset.
#CultureMatters – Nurturing the culture is continuous and ongoing to change behavior norms that embrace the Agile Mindset.
In addition to describing the basic characteristics of the Agile Mindset, we discussed these key questions during the workshop:
- What is the relationship between enterprise Agility and an Agile Mindset?
- What cultural environment is required to sustain an Agile Mindset?
- How to engage with executive-level individuals to create an Agile Mindset?
- How can we change the trajectory of the ‘Agile’ hype curve?
- Who are the key executive stakeholders in typical organizations that can be amplifiers for enterprise Agility?
At the end of the workshop, we noted that there are knowledge gaps to fill, constraints to be overcome, opportunities to both enhance communications and interactions with the broader business leadership community and effectively articulate why the Agile Mindset matters so that we can enhance Agile Alliance’s capacity to promote an Agile Mindset based on Agile’s principles and practices.
This two-day workshop was but a beginning – much work remains to develop specific actions that can enhance the advancement of Agile in the enterprise Agility ecosystem.