Agile is Easy, Transformation ain’t
I had the pleasure of being invited to the local Bristol branch of the BCS to do a ‘timeboxed’ 15 minute presentation of my personal experience of implementing Agile. I was joined ‘on stage’ with Peter Morgan an independent Tester and Tim Cardinal, the Director of Marketing for BCS.
I have included my Slideware that I used but as it includes a lot of visualisation I thought I would provide a brief commentary!
So my experience relates to my time at P&O Ferries when we started implementing Agile back in 2005 and continued to do so until I left 7 years later! Agile is a journey there is no chequered flag!
I decided to implement Agile because it was ‘cool’. To be honest, as we were undertaking a major business transformation it should have had more of a rationale other than it was cool! What was it we were trying to solve, what was wrong with our current way of working?
Either way, I decided to read a book and attend a few conferences. On that experience alone I decided that was enough of understanding to implement Agile! That was fine other than everyone else decided to read a book and as a consequence had their own ‘understanding’ of Agile. We ended up having ‘Agile Wars’!
So I decided to sheep-dip everyone in a one-day course to make sure we had a common understanding and a common language. Was that enough? No.
In the same way reading a book on parenting and attending ante natal classes in no way prepares you for having a baby! It provides a great ‘foundation’ but you need so much more!
In the same way, Andy Murray was in danger of becoming another great British underachiever that is, until Ivan Lendl became his coach. The metamorphosis in 2012 was palpable; first male singles Wimbledon finalist since Bunny Austin in 1938, first Grand Slam winner since Fred Perry in 1936, culminating with that never to be forgotten Wimbledon Final2013.
So the question is:
“So if Olympians, Athletes, elite Sportsmen and women recognise that they need a coach to be the best they can possibly be why don’t we as individuals, teams, departments or companies have coaches?”
So I realised that undertaking a major transformation I needed help and I got coaching support.
But over the years I learnt so much more.
First of all ‘one size does not fit all’ – there is no cookie cutter approach to implementing Agile. It is really important to understand what you are trying to solve and finding the most appropriate method to address. That does not mean that Scrum will always be the answer!
Secondly implement Agile in an agile way! Why wouldn’t you!! That is, start from where you are and implement in small steps not ‘big bang’ unless revolution is a corporate necessity.
Thirdly recognise that as individuals, teams, projects and organisations we are all different. As a consequence, there will be variations in how the teams evolve their practises albeit derived from the same foundations and principles!
Finally, when (not if) you get coaching support get people and/or organisations that are specialist in Agile Coaching. If you want to be the best, get the best.