Identifying and combating common challenges to optimize your Agile transformation journey.
Agile methodology is well-known for its ability to help organizations deliver value to their customers through its focus on flexibility, collaboration, and rapid iteration. However, despite the benefits of Agile, some organizations still struggle to successfully adopt and implement it.
If you find yourself in this situation, it's not too late to save your flailing Agile transformation effort. Keep reading to learn about common challenges that many organizations face during their Agile transformation journey, and we’ll share how our consulting practice can implement effective solutions to get your transformation back on track.
Common Challenges During the Agile Transformation Journey:
1. Lack of Leadership Adoption
The most common cause is a lack of leadership adoption. Leaders at every level of the organization must adopt the mindset and model the behaviors for their teams. While transformations can be successful with a bottom-up approach to start, at some point, managers, leaders, and executives must meet their teams on the journey.
Leadership adoption might be slow for several reasons, including:
- Training for leaders is out of scope: Excluding managers and leaders from the opportunity to embrace new ways of working results in misaligned expectations. Apex provides interactive workshops and group training modules that challenge leaders to think differently and have candid conversations. This creates a sense of shared vision and purpose for the future.
- Leaders “don’t need” coaching: It’s easy to assume that leaders aren’t the ones who need to change (and maybe they don’t!) Coaches take an unbiased assessment of behaviors and thought processes then recommend any necessary remedial actions while coaching through the change. Apex Agile Coaches are skilled professionals with a wide range of experience working within all layers of an organization and employ various techniques to encourage change that aligns to the future state vision.
- Leadership performance metrics do not align to an Agile way of working: While Agile teams may now be incentivized to release iteratively, leaders and managers sometimes continue to be incentivized by achieving hard milestone dates. This reverts to prior management practices that can be detrimental to their teams’ psychological safety and hinder the effectiveness of transformation efforts.
If your organization is struggling with its Agile transformation, it's not too late to turn things around.
2. Lack of Support
Embarking on an enterprise agility journey without a clear path to reach your vision is like taking a cross-country road trip without using GPS. You may or may not reach your ultimate destination and not without suffering from delays, detours, and wrong turns. In an enterprise context, the GPS can be compared to having a centralized guiding body that provides recommended processes, resources for learning and support, outlines clearly defined roles and responsibilities, and a solid foundation for change that is based on a culture of learning.
Apex’s Agile Practice designs a solution for your specific business context to address these needs. Whether at the beginning of your journey or somewhere along the way, here are a few ways we can create or improve Agile transformation supporting mechanisms:
- Designing an Agile Maturity Model to outline practices for teams, programs, leadership, and the enterprise to target and embody as they grow.
- Aligning the organization to the same playbook which creates a shared understanding of everything from roles and responsibilities, event and ceremony cadences, how to execute against the Agile framework, and how to progress to the next levels of Agile maturity. Our development approach is iterative and collaborative, incorporating stakeholder input, inspection and adaptation, and a thoughtful rollout plan.
- Establishing or augmenting a Center of Excellence (COE) to support the organization with knowledge-sharing and best practices. The COE reinforces the playbook guidelines and enables the organization to modify the playbook as needs change and the organization evolves.
3. Not taking supporting departments along for the ride.
When embarking on an Agile transformation journey, think about departments beyond IT and Marketing. For HR, Agile transformation sometimes means updating job descriptions, career paths, and performance management rubrics. If those adjustments are made at the local level but not organizationally, then misalignment between performance evaluation and compensation will persist. The Finance and Accounting departments also need to consider shifting from project-based accounting to lean budgeting. Other departments, such as Operations, Risk, and Audit, also need to be considered. How will their interactions with Agile development teams change? What outputs will they see versus previously? We believe that transparency across the enterprise is a cornerstone of success. We embody this belief by collaboratively building and executing against transformation roadmaps that provide transparency and enable stakeholders to link the mission and vision to the tactical activities. This approach both builds trust internally and manifests externally as improved outcomes for your customers.
4. No change management strategy
Change can impact roles and areas of the organization differently from not at all to a complete overhaul of life as they know it. Understanding where impact might be felt is the first step to developing a strategy that considers what awareness needs to be created around the change. This can then turn into an action plan to motivate individuals to embrace it and give them the tools they need to be successful (i.e., training, new hardware or software, different work setup, new organizational processes, updated documentation).
Many change efforts fall apart when there is no strategy to ensure consistent and ongoing adherence to the new way of working and no reward or benefit for those who follow the rules. The new way of working must be consistently reinforced with reminders, training, updated performance review criteria, as well as socializing the benefits to those who must adopt it with strategies involving recognition, compensation, and perks.
Apex believes in incorporating a change management strategy whenever change will impact your organization. We provide specialized training, coaching, development, and execution of comprehensive change management strategies no matter the size of the change or the organization. Ensure that the investment you have made to transform your way of working shows positive ROI rather than becoming a sunken cost.
In conclusion, Agile methodology has proven to be a valuable approach for organizations to deliver value to their customers through flexibility, collaboration, and rapid iteration. However, many organizations face challenges in adopting and implementing Agile successfully.
If your organization is struggling with its Agile transformation, it's not too late to turn things around. Let our consulting practice help you overcome these challenges and get your organization back on track to achieving success with Agile. Contact us today to ensure a positive return on investment for your transformation efforts.