“You may have heard the quote that ‘Culture eats strategy for breakfast.’ Well, execution eats strategy for breakfast, lunch and dinner.” said Maccherone. “Agility means being able to change your strategy to fit your most recent understanding of the market.”
Choosing a methodology
There are many flavors of agile: lean, Kanban, Scrum, and custom-made ones organizations build from their previous methodologies. According to said Lee Cunningham, director of enterprise agile at VersionOne, there is no wrong approach; organizations just have to decide what works best for them.
“Even at the high level of the organization, they may be borrowing some practices from XP, some from Scrum and blending them and kind of putting them together in a method that works well for them,” he said.
Agile refers to methodologies built on iterative development. Focuses on collaboration and cross-functional teams.
Kanban aims to provide continuous collaboration, visualization, limited amount of work in progress, and ongoing learning.
Lean focuses on delivering value to customers, eliminating waste, and providing fast delivery cycles, rapid feedback, and continuous learning.
Scrum is a lightweight framework that focuses on short iterations and team collaboration for quickly solving complex problems.
XP, also known as Extreme Programming, is designed for communication, feedback, simplicity, small releases, simple design, pair programming, test-driven development, refactoring, collective code ownership, and sustainable pace.
Cunningham also notes that while organizations will take different approaches, a high-level approach should have more lean workflows and principles in place. “Lean agile is really more than having visibility into the workflow, limiting the work to the actual capacity, and forcing prioritization and decision-making up the line,” he said. “It also helps the enterprise as a whole have a really better feel on where they need to make investment, where they need to allocate or periodically reallocate people.”
Top reasons agile transformations fail
Every organization will have their own unique failures and success, but according to Larry Maccherone, director of analytics and research for AgileCraft, there are seven recurring themes in agile failures. They include:
1. Lack of executive commitment
2. Overly expensive or ineffective planning, alignment and steering activities
3. Inability to get a real-time single source of truth for resource management, value planning and progress reporting
4. Organizational structure obstacles to orienting around the product or service you provide rather than the activities of the users
5. Mid-level and functional managers failing to let go of their prior control and accept a new role
6. Lack of team-level agility
7. Failure to plan out and acquire the necessary training and resources to accomplish the transformation