“Thriving in today’s marketplace frequently depends on making a transformation to become more Agile”. - Scott. M. Graffius
“I have not failed. I have found 10,000 ways that don’t work.” – Thomas Edison
You’re not imagining it: A 2018 McKinsey study found that 9 out of 10 “Digital Transformations” in key verticals, failed.
Your Teams seem to be trying really hard to be Agile and have been sent to a lot of Agile training, but it simply isn’t working. The Agile Teams seem more focused on “being Agile” and using Agile terminology and phrases than actually delivering Business Value to create a Happy, Energized, Confident Business User Community. The Agile Teams don’t even speak in Business Terms and you may struggle to recall when anything of actual Business Value was last deployed, accurately and when it was needed. Silos, tension, confusion and Agile anti-patterns now far outweigh any Agile benefits to your Business.
A good Agile Team functions exactly like a Formula One precision pit crew, with every single Team member in rapt attention to exactly what their Driver – the Business – needs or is doing. Highly trained experts on exactly what is supposed to happen and when, everyone understands that they are present solely to obsess about and constantly deliver high quality Business Value to their driver. Precision and speed are paramount. Team members are confident, watchful, poised and calm. When a User Story then rolls in, Teams swarm it to deftly build, test and deploy, in perfect cohesion. From endless practice, a beautiful synergy is casually displayed. At the end of a sprint a useful, shippable increment of Business Value is proudly demonstrated for the Business. Feedback is welcomed, respectful recalibration occurs and the Team gets better with every Sprint – empowering their Driver to shatter records and win every race.
Agile failure on the 9 failed digital transformations occurred because:
- Critical initial Agile setup steps, details, processes and measurements were skipped or meddled with.
- Dangerous, reckless “Customizations” were made to crucial Agile fundamentals and first principles – The mandate to always provide Business Value was not migrated across the Team, Management and Leadership levels.
- Agile training courses have massive gaps between coursework and the real-world Agile experience necessary to succeed.
- Good processes were not defined, so Teams practiced and reinforced destructive Agile anti-patterns everyday.
- The 20% of crucial Agile actions that will yield 80% of positive Agile results, were ignored.
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Agile methodologies are intuitive, simple, effective and today, the only way to ensure that high quality Business Value is nimbly, accurately delivered on time – allowing you to thrive and compete aggressively in the marketplace or Business Domain.
But, it is impossible to succeed at Agile, without first implementing Agile correctly. Teams that don’t implement Agile correctly are guaranteed to fail repeatedly, but are quick to blame Agile itself for the failure, instead of their own problematic implementation of fundamental Agile tenets. That’s like deciding to wire an electric panel in a way that you hope or suspect may work – it only guarantees repeated blackouts – and then blaming electricity after the inevitable fires and crises occur.
“If you can't describe what you are doing as a process, you don't know what you're doing." - W.Edwards Deming
Such Teams are running “Fragile Agile” , a widely prevalent Agile imposter state where everything looks and sounds like Agile, but the results are missing entirely or are very low quality. And yet, Agile first principles are being blamed.
“Two days to learn, a lifetime to master” - Ken Schwaber, on Scrum
Actually Agile recognizes that Agile failures occur because for every aspect of Agile that a Team gets right, dozens of Agile Anti-patterns set in, which it never recovers from. The key to the continued success of an Agile initiative is to ensure that the Anti-patterns are preemptively headed off or aggressively tackled, that Business Value is always treated as the true North Star and the incremental but steady adoption of Agile best practices.