How to know if a company is actually going Agile?

How to know if a company is actually going Agile?

By carolc

Agile methodology has evolved the way of thinking in business and its application is one of the first steps in organization Digital Transformation strategy. In this article, we will identify how we can know if a company is actually going Agile and we will discover this path is one of the greatest challenges an organization faces because it not only implies infrastructure, but also implies changes in personal paradigms of people who do life in it. And this, friends, is the most uphill part there is, not only in a company but in the whole world.

Being able to identify if an organization is really agile is quite difficult, since it could be agile in many areas but remain very rigid in others. There are organizations that call themselves agile but have not achieved a model complete scope and main reason is because does not exists a single point of agility. In fact, the heart of the matter of agile is that it is supported in a dynamic structure that is always transforming and trying to improve itself.

An agile model implementation has proven to give better results, mainly because it focuses on parts that really generate value and profitability. However, it requires a lot of patience, perseverance and courage to face risks since changes have never been easy and even less whether they are focused on human thinking and behavior transformation. We know that there is no magic number, answer or even an only way for a company to be agile or not; however here we will try to learn more about how we should evaluate if an organization is on way to being agile, and if it is not how we can give those first steps.

Understanding Agile first

Agile is a methodology supported on a collaborative effort of self-organizing and cross-functional ecosystem, based on well-defined values and principles. The application of this model in business processes and project management is called Agile Management.

Agile Values

There are four key values described in Agile Manifesto:

  • Individuals and interactions over processes and tools: things are important, but people and their interactions even more.
  • Working software over comprehensive documentation: documentations is not bad, but achieving goals is even more.
  • Customer collaboration over contract negotiation: agreements are important, but constantly ensure that results are still valid for clients is even more.
  • Responding to change over following a plan: to know what and when to do things is important, but adapting to changes is even more.

Agile principles

Agile Manifesto is based on twelve principles too:

  1. Customer satisfaction by early and continuous delivery of valuable software.
  2. Welcome changing requirements, even in late development.
  3. Deliver working software frequently (weeks rather than months)
  4. Close, daily cooperation between business people and developers.
  5. Projects are built around motivated individuals, who should be trusted.
  6. Face-to-face conversation is the best form of communication (co-location)
  7. Working software is the primary measure of progress.
  8. Sustainable development, able to maintain a constant pace.
  9. Continuous attention to technical excellence and good design.
  10. Simplicity—the art of maximizing the amount of work not done—is essential.
  11. Best architectures, requirements, and designs emerge from self-organizing teams.
  12. Regularly, the team reflects on how to become more effective, and adjusts accordingly.

What makes an Organization Agile by definition?

An agile organization is capable to rapidly adapt to market and environmental changes in productive and cost-effective ways by implementing an Agile model which approach is an iterative strategy focuses on continuous improvement in short time cycles, increasing their respond speed, expand collaboration and rapid adaptation to market trends and always being focused on its client needs. The top of an Agile organization it to implement advanced processes, tools and training and evolve to a decentralized non-hierarchical structure.

An agile organization is based on Agile model, but not every organization will implement it the same way. A common challenge is that while they have implemented various Agile pieces, they never truly get over the hump to experience all the benefits of the process. However, in a generally way, an agile organization has following characteristics:

  • They are made up of skilled and self-aware individuals who are highly oriented to collaborative work.
  • Their leaders are in touch with customers and responsive to their needs.
  • Their leaders inspire others without losing the cohesion within the entire system.
  • They use an open communication and highly collaborative style.
  • They focus on long-term business value but have short-time and team-defined milestones.
  • They continually are delivering output that is actually useful.
  • Their organization is on continuous learning making growth its experiences.

How to know if a company is actually going Agile?

There is no one-size-fits-all definition of exactly how Agile should be implemented, Agile Manifesto just provides guidelines, so this leaves a wide interpretation of the methodology and how they can implement within their culture and business. So, there is not a real expectation of all companies to be fully agile, but evolution indicates that they have to find the way to going to.

So, with an honest lecture of attributes mentioned above and by answering some of many questions about the organization and maybe we can figure out whether it is truly going on the right agile path or not:

  • Does it is familiar with Agile Manifesto values and principles?
  • Does it regularly produce value for stakeholders?
  • How does it treat outsiders?
  • Does it encourage and support a collaborative environment?
  • How does it respond to changes or deadline crisis?
  • Does it validate their results to the best of their ability?
  • Does it is self-organizing and with high adaptability to changes?
  • Does it leaders have to give more orders than directions?
  • Does it strive to improve their processes?
  • Does it put right people in right roles?
  • Do their teams successfully and fully integrate their products?
  • How frequently fully integrate their products?
  • Does all of its departments going agile or just some of them?
  • Does Agile processes are being forced on people?

Reflect on this questions, whatever be the answer for each one of this we can find and learn further in order to know how far a company is of being Agile. We have to remember that Agile model does not fit all businesses, but if we consider that fits so we have to do it right or do not do it at all. If one of Agile principles and values fails organization has to improve its processes; being agile it is not just to have a product backlog there is an open wide new world.

Be Agile and good luck!