Value postit

Understand value before change

Have you ever found an agile methodology to suit everyone? I don’t think there is one! You find people very passionate about a particular methodology who dismiss any notion of trying something different, they become very protective over which practice is used. I like people who are passionate about what they do, however there are times when we need to have an open mind for constructive thinking when looking at improvements within an organisation.

As there is no unified agile methodology it should direct our thinking away from a particular methodology and towards the organisation itself. I’ve experienced new developers join a team and immediately want to bring in practices from their previous workplace. For me this is not the right approach, I’m sure the practice worked well in the previous place but the needs of the current organisation need to be taken into account before attempting to persuade people of a ‘new way’.

In many ways the Holy Grail of agile teams are ones that are self-organising and empowered, they release frequently into production without the need to set dates or even estimate. This is certainly my kind of team but that doesn’t mean that this team suits every organisation. If your stakeholders need to produce roadmaps with milestones they are going to struggle working with that team, there will be conflicts between people trying to get their different jobs done.

There are times when we as team leads and managers need to compromise and adapt to the needs of the organisation. After all the organisation’s requirements usually override ours or those of our teams. It’s important to work with the stakeholders in finding better ways of working together but ultimately we have to feed the needs of those who depend on us. I see this mainly an issue in larger, corporate, organisations where there is a lengthy management chain that need to ‘visualise’ the work at different levels.

No matter what size of organisation though I believe there can always be improvements made. Many organisations need to change so they become stagnant and get left behind as their competitors accelerate ahead. That doesn’t mean change is rushed into, but drive us to focus on our own value as the first step. Understanding ‘value’ is key in any change. You can measure value in different ways for each organisation, do you know what is ‘value’ for you? The diagram below shows one path to achieve agile fluency that focuses on value:

The diagram is explained in more depth in Martin Fowler’s article – Your Path through Agile Fluency. I like this diagram because it clearly defines different stages with goals of reaching each stage, many organisations attempt to implement ‘Agile’ without an overall plan…apart from simply ‘being agile’. With this path you don’t need to attain 3 or 4 stars to bring value to the team or organisation, you may even want to stop at 2 stars depending on your customer needs.

As I say, this is only one path, there are other ways, maybe you don’t want all the steps, maybe you only need make minor adjustment, this is your call. The key part for me is determining where your ‘value’ is, without allowing time to understand this any changes made could prove futile. Only once you’ve understood this can a plan be put in place.

Organisational culture shapes most internal practices, it could be that once your value is understood the culture needs shifting to fit a new need. There is no hard and fast route to success, it takes time for any changes to become habits. It’s the good habits we want to create within the teams and across the organisation that build a culture of success!





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