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Agile Management - Where to start?

If you consider embarking on a move to Agile Management, how should you go about it? Part 3 of a 3-part opinion series.

Building an Agile enterprise is a change management challenge and is subject to all the traditional biases and resistance to change inherent in any organisation.

As with any change, diagnosing the root problem necessitating the change is important.  At Pathfinder, we often start with the common processes that exist in many organisations between business and IT functions.  We use typical issues seen in many clients (see figure 1) to drive the need for change and create a beachhead of Agile thinking that spreads throughout the organisation.

Figure 1 Common Problems addressed by Agile Management

Symptoms such as long delivery lead times; capacity management issues; lack of visibility on progress or return on investment are all indications that the current management practices are candidates for change. 

Agile Management offers a solution to these problems, and once proven this new way of working meets little or no resistance in other areas of the business.  This approach also has the benefit of building on many case studies and industry evidence covering the latest thinking originating from product management, scaled agile, and digital transformation.  Seeing how other organisations have managed the change reassures senior management and gives staff industry standard roles and processes they can benchmark against.

At Pathfinder, we have developed a roadmap for change, which forms the context for iterative improvements and feedback – remember Agile Management is a new set of behaviours and a new mindset, a company can never declare “we are finished, we have implemented Agile Management”.  Moving to Agile Management means changing how you do business every day and is therefore a continuous process. Fundamental milestones when commencing this journey are:

  1. Senior management buy-in
  2. Align strategy to change initiatives and develop the need for Agile Management
  3. Assess prioritisation and governance management processes
  4. Assess delivery capacity and maturity
  5. Select high impact initiative as proof of concept of Agile principles
  6. Deliver high impact initiative and apply learnings
  7. Develop Agile product management function / Agile PMO
  8. Recast delivery capacity to embed agile techniques
  9. Embed agile ways of working across IT / business interface for all work in progress and new requests
  10. Roll-out agile to other business areas (non-IT areas, customer facing teams, non-IT projects)

Described like this, Agile Management is very little to do with the actual technology utilised in the organisation or indeed just about software.  It is much more to do with how strategy is executed; how change is prioritised; how value is measured and how organisational capability is developed.   By tackling these challenges “in an agile way” the organisation can see results in a short time frame and for a relatively small investment.   The typical Pathfinder Agile change project deploys a small team of agile experts to support the change in the organisation:

  • Led by an Engagement Manager to mobilise the change and ensure results for the client. 
  • A Product Director to work with Business Sponsors on Value generation and prioritisation. 
  • A Technical Delivery Manager to enhance the delivery capacity of the organisation.
  • A Product Manager to lead by example, usually delivers the first High impact Project.
  • A Scrum Master / Agile Coach to help embed agile delivery principles in the team.

With these building blocks we have helped many organisations start the journey towards embedding a more agile management approach, perhaps the time is right for your organisation?

 

Paul Fegan is a certified Scaled Agile Practitioner and Head of Pathfinder’s Program Execution Practice.  If you want to learn more about how an Agile Management mindset can deliver greater value for your customers contact Paul directly on opendoor@pathfinder.ie   

Part 1 & 2 of our opinion series are available here:

1.) Agile Management- Flash in the pan or paradigm shift?

2.) Agile Management- A definition?

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

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