The Agile Executive

Making Agile Work

Recommendations from Santa Clara

with 4 comments

So much was going on simultaneously in Rally’s Agile Success Tour event in Santa Clara! More than 140 participants, an eclectic panel, 6 breakout sessions, numerous 1-1’s and, of course, a ton of spontaneous interactions. This posts in many ways represents my own “thread” within this very gratifying event. My Rally colleagues will no doubt supplement this post by commenting on the various activities and interactions in which I was not able to engage.

The number one question I was asked in the course of the event was about the difficulties quite a few software development champions encounter in the course of attempting to coalesce successful Agile projects into comprehensive initiatives at the corporate level. Team successes with Agile sometimes remain isolated islands of excellence within corporate “oceans.” The proven  ability of a capable Agile champion to carry the day in specific project does not necessarily lead to adoption of Agile as part of an all-encompassing corporate doctrine. Just like the Geoffrey Moore entrepreneur who demonstrates success in the early days of his/her start-up but does not quite make it big time, the Agile champion often struggles to cross an adoption chasm and make his/her way to “main street.”

Colleagues Ryan Martens, Dave West and Tom Grant discussed how to apply Agile in combination with Lean to elevate Agile from the project level to the corporate level. There is no need to repeat their good work (click here for example) in this post. Instead, here are the tactical suggestions I gave in Santa Clara to various Agile champions who looked for recommendations how to elevate Agile:

  1. A statement of Agile benefits is not sufficient. It must go hand-in-hand with an assessment of the risks (plural!) associated with the Agile expansion. See A View from the Executive Suite for details of the recommended approach.
  2. Statements of Agile benefits and corresponding risk mitigation approaches are not sufficient. As Peter Drucker quipped, Companies make shoes! To be relevant at the strategic level, the Agile program must be tied into the top initiatives a corporation carries out.
  3. Statement of Agile benefits, risk mitigation and strategic relevance are not sufficient. These statements must be accompanied by a clearly articulated approach to managing the cultural aspects of extending and expanding Agile. If at all possible, opt for for building on the strength of the current culture. It is much more difficult to try to change a culture. Moreover, it take a long time to transform a culture. See my forthcoming presentation Four Principles, Four Cultures, One Mirror in Agile Roots for details.

I will allow myself to repeat my recent assessment from the NYC event as it applies so well to the Santa Clara event:

I came out of the Santa Clara event convinced that we as a movement have a great opportunity on our hands. What we -Agilists – do works quite well. The need clearly exists to elevate Agile to the enterprise level. We will be solving a real problem in so doing.

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Written by israelgat

June 6, 2009 at 10:17 am

4 Responses

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  1. […] » 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. […]

  2. Lauren Bocci, the tireless organizer of the Success Tour events, just advised me: we actually had 163 participants in Santa Clara.

    It is a pleasure to be corrected in such a manner!

    Israel

    Israel Gat

    June 8, 2009 at 12:51 pm

  3. […] a comment » Forrester’s Tom Grant shares with us his observations from the recent Agile Success Tour in Santa Clara, thoughts where the Agile movement is and lessons from history we all should pay attention to. His […]

  4. […] a comment » Various posts in this blog (click, for example, here, here, and here) brought up noteworthy threads from the Q2 Rally Agile Success Tours events in […]


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