Grab a tissue. We’re going to let you in on a little secret:
There is no Agile Fairy. No magical Agile Fairy dust. No shortcut to business agility.
It’s okay. Take a minute if you need it.
Here's the Good News.
Instead of taking on the beast of business agility, let’s think in terms of Organizational Evolution. Let’s move the needle toward True North each day. Let’s do things better today than we did yesterday.
How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.
But here's the Truth.
Business agility, by definition, is a daunting task.
Business agility is the ability to compete and thrive in the digital age by quickly responding to market changes and emerging opportunities with innovative, digitally-enabled business solutions. Business Agility requires that everyone involved in delivering solutions—business and technology leaders, development, IT operations, legal, marketing, finance, support, compliance, security, and others—use Lean and Agile practices to continually deliver innovative, high-quality products and services faster than the competition.
It doesn’t take much reading between the lines to know that business agility involves shifting ingrained processes, behaviors, and mindsets of the organization and its people. It requires new communication and decision-making models, organizational structures, and skill sets. It requires looking at things differently. And sometimes, especially if a company is large or bureaucratic or regulated or risk-averse, it can be slow.
The Core Four
Agility and Agile Coaching is about PEOPLE, PROCESS, TECHNOLOGY, and PRODUCT at every level of the organization. We have to “build the right things” for our customers, leverage technical excellence to ensure we are “building it right,” enable the power and capabilities of our people, and, where possible, normalize how we do our work for scalability, consistency, and reuse.
Engage Executive Leadership
Visualize Strategic Alignment
Execute Portfolio Management
Cultivate Cultural Shift
Develop Centers of Excellence
Encourage Communities of Practice
Facilitate Product Ideation
Create a Product Vision/Roadmap
Roll Out an Agile Operating Model
Scale Agile Practices
Agile Practices Adoption
Refine and Prioritize Backlogs
Implement Agile Technical Practices
Establish Product Ownership
Cultivate High-Performing Teams
Develop a More Effective Leadership Style and Approach
Remove Communication Barriers
Learn Conflict-Management Skills
Strengthen Self-Confidence, Assertiveness, and Well-Being
Navigate Difficult Relationships
Product Delivery Strategy
Agile Lifecycle Management
ALM Tool Assessments, Tailoring, and Configuration
Business Process Optimization
Atlassian Partner Organization
Client: Government Agency
Engagement Category: 4 Business teams, 11 IT Teams, Government
Type: Strategic business agility, program, and team-level coaching
Problem: This large government organization identified the need for agile development and delivery framework to increase collaboration between business units and the Office of Information Technology (OIT), align acquisition and governance processes, and facilitate the delivery of solutions while lowering risk and driving speed-to-value.
Our Work: In the first month of execution, our team completed an agile assessment through 21 interviews, composed of 124 people, and across all OIT and Business divisions. We then created a tailored agile adoption strategy based on risk tolerance, willingness for change, and organizational feasibility. The Agile Strategy was memorialized through a 1 year agile roadmap; normalized through the creation of an Agile Playbook (to be used for all Agile implementations across the OIT to include Readiness Assessment, Agile Coaching Support, and provide Scaling Practices); and operationalized through 7 agile pilot programs, 3 of which pilots occurred in the business to explore the concept of product strategy and ownership, and the other 4 pilots occurred within OIT focusing on software delivery practices. In parallel, we were able to create an Agile Center of Excellence (ACoE), with the primary goal of creating an agile community at the agency with regular ACoE meetings, bi-monthly Agile Newsletters, Lunch and Learns, and agile training for both contractors and federal employees.
Client: Government Agency
Engagement Category: 50+ Teams, Government, IT
Type: Enterprise Coaching, Portfolio Alignment
Problem: A large monolithic program was learning, adopting, and leveraging agile software delivery practices; however, the rest of the agency, including the business, was left to figure out their role in this new “agile” environment. Their struggles ranged from meaningful metrics to tool adoption, to understanding how to align the business with IT delivery, all while delivering code daily.
Our Work: Pliant Solutions provides comprehensive agile consulting and coaching support by partnering with teams, programs, and executives to help drive this agency to the forefront of modern agile practices within the Federal Government. The scope of this engagement ranged from Team and Program level coaching – harnessing agile techniques such as Portfolio Kanban to enable transparency and management of cross-team dependencies– to Enterprise level Coaching –supporting organizational change initiatives such as leadership coaching and strategy development to foster overall organizational alignment and business agility.
Pliant Solutions fostered organizational agile adoption by establishing a Product Owner Summit, a yearly forum of over 100 Product Owners to learn and share new business agility techniques; the Agile Leadership Forum; the IT Project Manager Agile Workshops; and countless other brown bag learning events.
Pliant Solutions partnered with the Agile Architecture and Design Services team to apply the lean-startup approach to prototyping products for teams to consume, such as Design as a Service – a marketplace where teams and product owners can easily share and find style guides, interface components, and design guidance.
Client: Global Media Company
Engagement Category: 10+ Teams, Private, IT
Type: Team & Portfolio Coaching/Alignment with Business
Problem: This large international media organization sought to recalibrate its agile delivery teams. They frequently missed key deadlines and deployed, on average, once every 3-4 months. This was frustrating to the marketing team, who needed new products and updates delivered promptly to meet the needs of their rapidly shifting market.
Our Work: After completing assessments and training for baseline, we guided teams in technical agile best practices, including GitFlow, feature branches, automated test suites, and Atlassian tools; embedded within teams to model facilitation of Scrum; and coordinated with external business units to define/refine requirements, creating close alignment between business and delivery. Pliant Solutions facilitated teams in regularly delivering product increments on time for the first time in over twelve months, as well as level-set agile knowledge, practices, and procedures.
Client: Government Agency
Engagement Category: 5+ Teams, Government, IT
Type: Agile Adoption, Product & Team Coaching
Problem: An in-house research and development group at a large agency was tasked to learn agile, create an agile methodology, and deliver the first mobile application while simultaneously adhering to compliance standards under the current SDLC and legacy infrastructure. Rules not only had to be broken but created while blazing a new path for iterative delivery on three mobile platforms.
Our Work: The scope of this engagement involved partnering with our client using business agility techniques and concepts such as User Story Mapping, Minimum Viable Product, and Three Amigos to build and deploy the app within two months – decreasing overall release time by ten months. This engagement also included providing agile assessments and training to help guide the overall adoption of the new practices.
Client: State Health Insurance Exchange
Engagement Category: 22 Teams, Government, IT
Type: Program Kick-off, Program Increment Planning, Agile Adoption
Problem: With the passage of the Affordable Care Act, the State opted to create a State-Based Health Insurance Exchange. New to agile, there were very limited requirements, uncertainty about coordinating 180 people from across the globe, and a culture that was not supportive of the mission.
Our Work: Pliant Solutions was an integral partner in facilitating the program kick-off and introducing agile practices and principles to their Department of Health and Welfare. Pliant Solutions’ early engagement in the kick-off helped bring together stakeholders from across the state to understand the business need and drive alignment and coordination throughout implementation, which mitigated potential integration challenges later in development. As a result of this approach, the State was able to deliver a state-based exchange within the scheduled time allotted by the Presidential mandate.
Client: National Plumbing Supply Company
Engagement Category: 20+ Teams, Private, IT
Problem: A bi-modal organization (agile-hybrid) needed assistance in “relaunching” its agile initiatives and baselining the knowledge throughout the IT department.
Our Work: Pliant Solutions provided training at multiple levels of the organization. We provided agile training to teams to help them baseline and relaunch their efforts; training to product owners for product vision and road mapping; and leadership training to help executives listen and receive feedback from teams and understand the environments that support the emergence of high-performing teams.