How to start to be Agile?

How to start to be Agile?

By carolc

Once we found how to know if a company is actually going Agile, and we had identify that there is a not so straightforward path to go there, now how can we or a company start to be really Agile? In this article, we will give further information of first steps to take on this road that is the greatest IT challenges one could face. Because it not only implies infrastructure, but also implies changes in personal paradigms of people who participates.

What steps do we have to take to going Agile?

Have in mind that there is not a single point of agility because its supported in a dynamic structure that is always transforming and trying to improve itself. It is quite complex and 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.

So, for this dynamism and complexity and respectful to principles and Agile Manifesto, we have to finding our own Agile path. Because everyone is different and should adapt it to its ways. If we want to try being Agile, it’s not hard to find a couple of practices that we can follow and evaluate the results. Remember that Agile is designed to deliver results, not processes.

The Agile voice

The first thing we have to do is to know, understand and identify with the Agile voice, internalize it, and if we are sure then to get a sponsor for the change. A transformation like this requires a card that can be played when friction appears. From management to sponsor, it is ideal to look for a trainer or coach to teach them about change that adopting Agile means in our teams. Perhaps, we have faced Agile introducing challenge to our business before from bottom up and without sufficient support and maybe that is the reason why we had try and quit.

Although starting at bottom up usually achieves a quick improvement, difficulties appear when our project interacts with other upper areas and reach certain hierarchical level where someone ask to follow a Gantt Chart or to do things different in a more traditional way. But surprise: we are going to have same results with this approach. That is the moment when sponsor takes action by supporting us in the process. If we do not have it then we will possibly give up and when that is happen it produces on us and all people who started it. Therefore, it is essential to have maximum support before starting.

Come up with a plan

Next thing is to come up with a plan, but a realistic one not some that we have expecting to fail because it is a lie. Transformation takes time and effort, is a long process and it is better to be patient and just work every day on it, but always it is important to know where we are going. We can start by having a digital tool that helps us to follow each step, and a physical board it would be perfect because it will attract always our attention and even can help as a marketing element for what is to come. Having at a glance our projects evolution status is the best way to begin our every day journey. Helps to know where we are today and where we have to go.

Identify the necessary changes

Now, is time to identify what are changes that our goals need to be achieved. What and where do we have to start on each stage? Where will we begin? When a change occurs we will always have people that are in favor, people that are not and others that can care less about. It is important to identify them and rely on those people who are willing to changes at first, later the rest will end up approaching as soon as they can taste every result.

Set priorities and act

Once we have decided about change the what’s, where’s and who’s, it only remains to start. Write the first things to do and do it. All members of the team have to write down all those things that they do in their day to day that consider to be unproductive (even this activity). It is not an action to complain, but to evaluate how we were doing our work so fat and see what we should not repeat. We have to end everything that is not productive and stop to do it, and in change write in board those things that actually have value and have to be done; we prioritize between them and start as soon as possible.

Living the results

At this time, we can start to feeling the changes and living the results. That will be spread it to the rest of team, believers or not, change will become visible and real. A good technique to apply in next stage is break up the group and divide people into different teams, that will have a viral effect and do extend knowledge.

As we are moving forward and changing things it is important to monitor the plan, see progress, status and measure results. Measuring change will help us to make decisions, support transformation and get continuous improvement. Once change begins to pay off and improvement becomes apparent, it will be difficult to backtrack.

Now we know how to start to be Agile

Let us refresh first steps:

  • Identify ourselves with Agile.
  • Find a sponsor.
  • Build a plan.
  • Look a tool to visualize it every time in the journey.
  • Identify what changes, where to start and who are the actors and their position about.
  • Write down those things we do that are not productive and stop to do it.
  • Write down those things that have to be done and start by doing them.
  • Spread the experience after first cycle.
  • Monitor the plan: evaluate progress, status and measure results.

Now that we know how to start to be Agile, we must to have in mind this facts:

  • If we go Agile, we have to do it right or donot do it at all.
  • Make sure Agile culture is a good fit for our business model and values.
  • Take the team to align with core values and principles of Agile.
  • We have to transform all of us, not just development team. Both business and development side should share Agile mindset, and be prepared to work in close cooperation with each other.
  • We must to be capable of make decisions quickly, and take action on them.
  • At least, but not last, always have to follow and respect Agile Manifesto and principles.

One more time, changes are never easy, there is no recipe in Agile world. We can only observe, inspect and adapt. Do not be rush about great results in one fell swoop. Transformations are complicated, but if we do not transform we will be obsolete, change is necessary and denying it will make us less competitive.

Let us be Agile and good luck!