Agile allows businesses to make great strides, adapting quickly to market changes and a competitive marketplace, while promoting flexibility, a high standard of work, cost reductions, and technology-business goals alignment. But it has not been the savior that enterprise has hoped it would be.
But let’s give credit where credit is due. Agile has propelled significant benefits for business:
- It can easily adapt to changes required, reprioritizing functionality as discoveries are made.
- Functional software delivery in increments leads to visualization of requirements.
- Structured collaboration improves end-product’s quality.
- Throughout the project, team resources are employed to their fullest capacity, ensuring efficacy.
- A quicker development timeframe results.
While these and other benefits drive companies across industries to employ
agile development practices, in some respects, agile hasn’t fully
delivered on its potential.
Why its not enough: Scalability
In the rush to deliver Agile practices, today’s IT consultants and thought leaders all but ignore the critical ways in which human relationships and informal networks determine the dynamics of organizational systems. Agile training that substitutes for truly understanding where a current system came from and how it functions is not scalable.
Implementing agile teams creates operational and ideological barriers in which teams find themselves working in conflict with the rest of the organization. Scaling agile principles and processes by grafting them onto existing organizational structures creates several dangerous and unnecessary organizational adversaries.
These examples show how agile principles often proliferate into chaos:
- By transitioning hundreds of in-flight projects, the company creates confusion, resourcing challenges, and accidental adversaries.
- Because agile teams learn to self-manage, they come to perceive managers as obstacles to progress. Managers in turn confirm this fear when, in spite of their conceptually embracing agile practices, they revert to command and control at the first sign of trouble.
- Because teams are given total autonomy for their work, everyone around them must blindly find ways to contribute or else risk becoming expendable.
The common methods for scaling agile ignore the fundamental law of systems composed of people: People are the process.
At the foundation
Agile teams connect a small, specialized part of the organization – agility connects the whole system. With “agile” as the foundation of your enterprise project, you’ll ignore the people, the teams, the networks that make it possible. With agility at the core, forming the basis of your endeavor, you’ll power the right results.
When you scale agile in a copy-paste fashion, adoption will nearly always break down. Autonomy and trust are displaced by culture clashes, intra-organizational wrangling, and often a reestablishment of the outmoded command and control process that agile was meant to eliminate.
Building a network of human relationships as you adopt and scale agile creates the means for agility, innovation and operational excellence to spread across the whole organization. These foundations propel businesses to make great strides, adeptly adjusting as the marketplace ebbs and flows and aligning technology to power business goals.