Agile as a strategic weapon

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[vc_row padding_top=”0px” padding_bottom=”0px”][vc_column fade_animation_offset=”45px” width=”1/1″][text_output]A few weeks ago I went to Singapore to the Scrum Alliance Global Gathering, which brought together Agile experts from around the world to talk about the future of Agile and how it’s being practiced today in Asia.

As I listened to the sessions and talked with trainers, coaches, and attendees, I left with three strands that I feel are a great summary of the Agile movement worldwide:

  • Agile is entrenched in technical teams: it’s well-documented, well-researched, and used commonly in software and other technical teams. There’s agreement that it’s a definite improvement over traditional software development methods, and it greatly affects the morale and talent recruitment capabilities of companies that practice Agile effectively.

    The implication: As virtually every company is a “tech company” now – there’s software in just about every product in every industry – companies that might not have felt that Agile applies to them will start to see Agile emerge in their technical teams. In addition, the emergence of practices to enable agility, such as continuous deployment and test driven development, provide a mechanism to reinforce the Agile mindset on teams that practice them.
  • Agile is rapidly expanding beyond software, though the practices are less well-defined. Marketing, Sales, HR, Manufacturing/Engineering, and other departments are rapidly incorporating these new ideas, and there’s a wave of emergent expertise being formed that can dive deeply into these areas.

    The implication: Team performance can be greatly enhanced by using the overwhelming amount of data that’s available today, but that improvement comes from teams being able to understand and use that data, and make meaningful improvements in short iterations, repeatedly. Marketing, for example, is awash in data; Agile provides a means for them to leverage it, to do rapid experiments to learn which channel works best for a given product or campaign, and make the best use of marketing resources. This same principle applies to almost every kind of knowledge work.
  • There’s far more strategic potential in the Agile movement than is being realized so far.  Most Agilists are able to affect change in teams or departments to improve product delivery, morale, and overall performance. But few executive leaders have been able to wield it effectively for innovation and new product/feature delivery at an organizational level. In most companies, Agile is treated as a department-level methodology, and not as a cultural, business-wide imperative.

    The implication: While the Agile movement grows worldwide, executive leaders will need to come to terms with:
    • The potential to wield Agile product development as an intentional strategy, not just a way to execute their old strategic plans more quickly or flexibly. Once Agile takes root and thrives, it can and should become a core strategic weapon.
    • The ability for an Agile mindset to become the basis for organizational culture, and in turn, recruiting and retaining talent.

This is an exciting time for the worldwide Agile movement: it’s up and running in thousands of companies, many of them seeing exceptional results. Yet its potential is just now starting to be felt by the leading organizations that are fully leveraging it across the enterprise.

I can’t wait to see how it evolves from here. [/text_output][/vc_column][/vc_row]