“What is Our Recipe for Success?!”
A pattern started to emerge for me as I was listening to various participants in the Rally Agile Success Tour in Santa Clara. Agile champions these days often operate in the context of aging business designs. Opportunities the Agile champions highlight to utilize Agile for higher productivity, better quality and faster time-to market are often lost amidst a vicious cycle: sooner or later aging business design are accompanied by value outflow; the severity of the value outflow problem consumes most/all executive cycles; consequently, the message about the various ways in which Agile could help turn things around are not heard. It is a sad irony: at the time Agile is needed more than ever, openness and receptivity toward improving operations and attaining competitive advantage through new (software) methods tend to decline.
Here is a simple question you could ask executives in your company if/when your Agile message does not seem to get heard:
What is our recipe for success?!
The point in posing this question is straightforward: start a dialog aimed at identifying the linkage(s) between the benefits of Agile and the strategy or grand strategy a company is implementing. No matter what business your company is in, chances are software plays a big part in whatever it does. Any business process in your company depends on software. Services your company offers require software in one way or another. Quite a few products your company brings to market are likely to contain embedded software. Compliance requirements your company needs to adhere to inevitably depend on software. These days we all witness pervasive software in the true sense of the term.
The possibility exists that the question “What is our recipe for success?!” might be be misinterpreted as flippant. If you are worried about such misinterpretation, ask your Agile consultant to bring up this question. It is an absolutely appropriate, indeed necessary, question for him/her to pose in the course of designing an effective Agile roll-out. The roll-out itself might (or might not) be focused on R&D. However, the plan for so doing must factor in business circumstances and imperatives. The recipe for success question is part of “deciphering” the business context to enable R&D to be truly aligned with the business.