Pillars of Agile
Pillars of Agile
In this post, we take a look at some of the foundational practices that newly formed Agile teams should keep in mind to have success.
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Agile is the current Buzz word in the industry and all are vying to incorporate it to have better delivery and turn around in the business.
Many industries across are transforming to Agile to reap the benefits of faster delivery to markets and shorter turnaround time.
I am highlighting the foundational factors which have a very high influence on the outcome of Agile adoption and Implementation. I call them “The Pillars of Agile.”
I will briefly talk about these factors and how their presence exponentially increases the chances of success. They act as a catalyst throughout the journey.
The core of Agile is “People.” Agile is a people-centric approach to complex software development.
An organization with an open culture helps in making the three pillars, i.e. Transparency, Inspection and Adaptation of any Empirical Process meaningful and effective.
Engaged team members help in creating and sustaining self-organizing teams, who take ownership and work towards continuous improvement.
Strong engagement comes with autonomy and ownership which can be built by Trust.
When it comes to Agile implementation, it has mostly been observed that the onus generally lies on the IT side of the business. From my point of view, Agile is a framework and can be applied anywhere, irrespective of the nature of the business.
For successful adoption, the responsibility should be across all the fronts of the organization starting from top management to the business domains and also to middle management.
Only when it is imbibed by the leaders can Agile seep into the culture and be implemented successfully.
This is the foundation which needs to be constructed to embark on the Agile Journey.
The Product Owner is one person on whose shoulders the entire success/failure of project implementation (using Agile) can depend. Out of their numerous responsibilities, they understand business goals and objectives, know where the enterprise is heading and why. They are the one who understands the Business/Financial implication of developing or not developing each requirement.
The availability of such a person is prima-fascia the most critical thing. Imagine if it’s not feasible to do a cost-value analysis OR define the business value of a requirement, then there is no valid Backlog. The implementation will fail, be over-budget, or get delayed. If we do not have success defined (i.e. a Definition of Done) and know when to stop, it will be an aimless exercise without a true Product Owner.
Some argue that a Product Owner should come from an internal part of any organization. I think any external person who understands the business and can derive value out of it can be a great asset to any organization to take it forward.
It’s Imperative that before we start the Agile journey, there needs to be a thorough analysis of the situation as-is (i.e. enterprise goals and objectives, expected business value/success criteria, current assets of the organization).
An Agile Coach working in close relationship with the leadership can help achieve this. He/she is the one who co-relates and bridges the gap between “Business expectations” and “What’s feasible/recommended.” He/she aligns stakeholder support and involvement in the Agile journey. He/she creates the Road Map which supports business Goals and delivers expected value to the business.
In this journey, those who serve as Leaders/Scrum Masters/Coaches/Mentors for the individuals/teams at the point of action, play a critical part in the implementation of Agile. Without their commitment, it’s impossible to make any headway. A coach helps them in preparing for this Journey and being successful in their new role.
Apart from this, there is a lot of groundwork needed before starting the development cycles (regular/incremental deliveries). A coach facilitates this pre-work, kicks-off the process and sets the rhythm of this journey. Thus they act as a pivotal point on which the entire exercise moves.
At the End
I have tried to keep things simple, but a real-life situation will be more complex. However, that does not take away these three central pillars. There is N number of factors that influence the outcome and each journey is unique.
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