2 Ways You Can Introduce a Sense of Urgency to Enhance Your Enterprise Agility !
Updated: Sep 15, 2019
Are you one among those Scrum Masters who had success with some of the Agile teams in your organization through Agile transitionand do not believe in the "Agile is Dead" notion yet? Welcome aboard!! It’s time that you turn towards Enterprise Agility.
Enterprise Agility requires an organization to be Agile at scale. The valuesand principleswhich have been successful at team levels are to be introduced at an organizational scale so that the benefits can be accrued at scale.
There are various factors which influence an organization’s decision and ability to move towards Agility at scale.
However, it’s not easy to influence an organization to move against its own inertia.
Among these, Sense of Urgency is one of the most important factors in implementation of Enterprise Agility. Let us take a short trip through a fictional organization to have a perspective.
Organization A is operating in a consumer electronic domain. It has products for almost every consumer segment.
It has adopted Agile processes. Some of the teams have been quite successful in creating value through iterations. However, some other teams have met with only temporary success.
What ails these teams from achieving their full potential? You do a brainstorming session and come up with a couple of reasons:
Business owners are not responsive towards Agile processes.
Projects are still owned, implemented, and budgeted in silos.
Inspection and adaptation of domain-level initiatives do not happen during iterations.
It is a common knowledge that moving towards Enterprise Agility will go a long way in helping Organization A maximize their potential. However, there is dithering.
And in the meantime, it is well known that products from competing organizations are reaching consumers faster, that too with lesser defects. Even though Organization A has been able to synchronize and create value in a shorter span of time, the company is just not there.
What seems to be missing in the factors which could help Organization A towards accepting Enterprise Agility?
A Sense of Urgency. Let’s look at the other aspects for a moment. The organization already understands the value addition of Agile processes within teams. Why else would it want its teams to be Agile?
It also understands the benefits that come along with Enterprise Agility. And though discussions keep happening, there is no concrete movement towards Enterprise Agility.
Which are the steps through which we can bring in a Sense of Urgency?
Keep publishing an Enterprise Agility 'scorecard'. The scorecard is a simple mechanism to showcase where your organization stands with respect to standard indicators.
The card should have indicators and visual verification of the current level of implementation and any comments you would want to update your audience with.
Which are these indicators?
It is an executive decision for planning and scheduling about transition to Agile, which must be clarified to all stakeholders.
Are all participants and stakeholders, who are affected by your organization's plan to move towards Enterprise Agility, aware of the EA activity?
What about their knowledge about its impacts?
Have they been trained and furnished with enough information about the changes?
What about the timeline? Does such a plan exist? Are all stakeholders aware of the plan of implementation and have they accepted it?
Do we need help in training personnel and coming up with the plan? If so, who should take action?
Structure of teams
This helps in creating cross-functional teams, which can independently create value.
Are the teams created in a way, which encourages a cross-functional flow of information?
Do personnel need training for competencies, which currently do not reside within the team?
Have teams been given the independence to discuss and identify missing competencies and integrating them within team?
Which are the gaps in creating cross-functionality with a view towards quality?
Is there a plan to induct/recruit/move members to create cross-functionality?
Roles and Empowerment
It’s important to respect roles and enable empowerment of new roles and teams.
Has training been imparted for all roles?
Once people have been trained, are the roles being respected by all stakeholders?
Are there gaps in the stakeholders’ understanding of roles and responsibilities?
Is there a plan to bridge such a gap?
It refers to the level of Agility within individual teams.
Are individual teams following any of the frameworks such as Scrum/Kanban/Scrumban etc.?
Are they following all mandatory ceremonies and providing artefacts? If not, do they have proper agreements and discussions about deviations?
Is there a gap between team knowledge and acceptance of Agile values? If so, is there a plan to overcome this?
Is the team Agility getting better over time?
This refers to a top-down effort for synchronization, alignment and continuous sharing of learnings and best practices.
Does a CoP exist within your organization?
If not, is there a plan to create and nurture such CoPs (for Scrum Masters/ Product Owners)?
The above five indicators need to be updated on a monthly basis, using a visually stimulating mechanism.
I suggest using a Red/Amber/Green card to showcase progress for various indicators.
Red:No or very little progress for the indicators
Amber:Ongoing progress, but with slow rate of change for the indicators
Green:High rate of progress or completed activity for the indicators
Comments can also be added depending on individual topics to help the audience understand the current situation and progress.
Let us take the instance of Organization A which we started with.
In January of this year, 'A' started its discussions about moving towards Enterprise Agility.
However, it did not have any CoP in existence. Its teams were not fully cross-functional.
Most teams were following some framework. However, they were not following them completely and without any pertinent information about why gaps existed. And lastly, the roles of the PO and team were not respected by business owners.
In Feb and March due to the training and involvement of Scrum Masters, the roles were more clarified and better respected. However, the vision to move towards Enterprise Agility still lacked a definite plan along with setting up a fully functional CoP.
Another important input towards building a Sense of Urgency is the Cost of Delay. In this case, the cost of delay is not for features, but for the enterprise as a whole.
It is difficult for the management to view the Cost of Delay of implementation of Enterprise Agility as the cost is not immediately evident.
Which are the factors contributing towards the Cost of Delay?
The biggest factor is opportunity cost. There are multiple factors in its ambit:
Changes which could not be accepted due to silo-based activities. Valuation is based either on additional customers attracted or customers retained or amount saved through efficiency.
New implementation which could not be done due to silo-based activities. Valuation is as discussed above
Time to market for MVP in a silo-based mode
Resource cost due to attrition where silo-based culture is mentioned as the reason for leaving
However, do we need to provide an analysis based on exact figures for these calculations? The hesitation that we see is often because we rely extensively on figures and then wait for these to be available.
Another simpler mechanism is to check all the factors of Cost of Delay in four buckets:
Burning platform- Would a status quo in this factor mean you enter a phase which leads to your organization becoming unviable ?
Free fall- Would a status quo in this factor mean that your organization will go into a free fall and can only become viable through extraordinary intervention?
Gradual slide- Would a status quo in this factor mean that your organization will enter a gradual slide downwards and require intervention in medium to long-term to remain viable?
Status quo- Would a status quo in this factor not affect your organization positively or negatively?
The weightage given should be 'Burning Platform' > 'Freefall' > 'Gradual slide' > 'Status quo'.
Once you have gone through all factors of your Cost of Delay and put them in these buckets, a simple reflection would show the requirement for change with respect to your current situation.
Such updates should be brought up with stakeholders on every possible opportunity and discussions should be held to determine whether stakeholders agree or disagree with these views.
The above mechanisms can be used to highlight the current situation in any organization viz-a-viz their movement towards Enterprise Agility.
Note that successful transition does not happen overnight and these tools should be used to start and steer discussion around it.
The movement towards Enterprise Agility is a strictly business decision. Such decisions will never happen without all business stakeholders being on the same page and accepting change.
About Me : A passionate Scrum Master having 15+ years of experience in software industry, I have handled Agile based projects of various complexities. Having successfully handled Agile transition for multiple scrum teams, I write about my experiences, challenges and some solutions.
Connect with me through LinkedIn.