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.
Business agility either thrives or dies in a company’s culture. A healthy company culture — its attitudes and behaviors– supports continuous improvement, where people aren’t afraid to experiment, fail, learn, and try again. When leadership sets a clear company vision (the what), people are empowered to make localized decisions about how to achieve the vision. And in achieving the vision, the people doing the work often come up with new, innovative ideas that the business can decide whether or not to invest in further. Leadership empowers its people to innovate and deliver, and people have the room to innovate and deliver when leadership sets clear vision, values, and alignment.
But people are messy. Leaders need to learn a new way of leading. They need to move from a top-down approach to an empowerment approach. Looking through a new lens means looking in a mirror and recognizing leadership styles, strengths, and weaknesses.
Also, an empowerment approach means organizations need to rethink organizational structures and decision-making processes and ensure each and every person has the right tools for their new job. And not just technical tools. Adaptive tools. Since people are collaborating more than ever before, people need communication and interpersonal tools so that they can be servant leaders to a productive team
There are a lot of Agile methodologies, frameworks, and practices to choose from: Scrum, Kanban, Lean, SAFe, LeSS, Scrum @ Scale, eXtreme Programming, and Behavior Driven Development, to name a few.
Since we don’t subscribe to a “one size fits all” solution or one strict agile framework, our Agile Coaches encourage teams to use the best, most applicable aspects of those agile frameworks as guiding principles and values to cultivate creative solutions and successful strategies. We find that loosely coupled systems and tightly aligned processes ensure organizational buy-in and sustainable change.
There are a ton of benefits to creating your own business agility model:
- Vision – when the leadership sets the vision –the “north star”–, everyone in the organization has context into what they’re doing, why they’re doing it, and can implement toward it.
- Business alignment — prioritizing projects according to business value.
- Transparency – allows anyone in the company to see what is happening. Sharing not only what we’re doing but how we’re doing it.
- Continuity – all business units and teams build on the same cadence and deliver on-demand, creating continuous delivery, consistent delivery practices, and normalizing agile terminology.
- Accountability – mapping organizational titles and positions to the roles and responsibilities.
It’s been said there are only two sure things in life: death and taxes. Well, if you’re in an agile environment, add DevSecOps and an automated pipeline to that list. Technology is an enabler not only for faster product development (who doesn’t want that?) but also for quality products (resulting in lower cost…less maintenance…and less frustration).
The automated pipeline is designed to support continuous integration between your development and operational teams. Effective DevSecOps not only includes best practices for developers (such as pair programming, test-driven development, code reviews, and test and pipeline automation) but also builds in security from the beginning and creates plans for security automation. This enables developers to code with security in mind from the start and ensures compliance with security and auditing practices. All this comes down to a Continuous Integration/Continuous Delivery (CI/CD) approach to Agile Software Delivery Lifecycles (SDLC).
Automated pipelines build resilience into the system, ensuring reliability, serviceability, deliverability, dependability, flexibility, maintainability, quality, transparency, affordability, accountability, and other -ities we haven’t mentioned. But to build a resilient pipeline into your organization, start with your people. Cross-functional, vertically-sliced feature teams within a continuous delivery pipeline reconcile silos and discourage ineffective component-based isolation across teams. For this kind of cultural shift, buy-in is critical from both leadership and boots on the ground.
The constant feedback loops offered by CI/CD create continuous improvement by providing visibility and data regarding pipeline flow (such as velocity, throughput, and lead time), resulting in action items to drive higher product quality. A vital feature of a healthy pipeline is the ability to release on demand, which meets customers’ needs and builds customer satisfaction.
A product is a good or service that solves a specific problem or creates a particular benefit for a group of end-users, whether inside or outside the organization.
Customer-centric collaborative design means your organization and teams deliver the right product to your end-user. The product is relevant, valuable, and feasible, not just functional. Using a design thinking approach, the development team focuses on understanding the problem to be solved, which encourages the discovery of how users actually do their work and generates empathy to meet their needs better. Iterative development provides continuous customer interaction and feedback early and often, ensuring the development team creates with purpose and delivers value on a predictable cadence.
Business agility creates a competitive advantage. Are you getting signs that you’re building the wrong thing? That’s okay. Pivot.