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How to Spark an Agile Revolution: 5 Steps to Win the War

A year and a half ago, if projects were our battles, my company was on the losing side.  The battleground of the IT project portfolio at our Company was a mess — ineffective communication, extreme frustration, and stalled projects across the organization.  But then a spark of Agile inspiration — fueled by new Agile tools — ignited an organization-wide revolution. A grass-roots Agile Scrum model has been our winning battle strategy.  This article will tell you the story of an Agile revolution and how we conquered our foes.  Our Agile Revolution was won by chipping away at our disorganized, decentralized, top down project approach, one battle at a time.  I can identify 5 battles that once catapulted our success to win the war to become an Agile company: Battle #1. Convince one individual that the Agile war is a good idea and worth fighting.  Having an organizational Coach or Champion is key.  Many people think of Agile as a buzzword or a fad, or that it doesn’t apply to their particular area of the business.  The core concepts of Agile are universally valuable.  Certainly Agile started as a Development discipline, but it can be successful for any part of the organization.  Fifteen months after adopting Scrum, 86% of Salesforce.com employees were having a “good time” or the “best time.” Only 40% said that before adopting Scrum.  92% would recommend agile to others.  Perhaps employees like agile because there’s 2/3rds less overtime according to University of Calgary research.  At SingleHop, a managed services hosting company, a single Agile Champion turned into 85% of the organization using Agile in 2 years. These are the benefits that Agile promises for everyone. Having a passionate Champion in the organization that understands and believes in the benefits of Agile is the only way to start to formulate a strategy to win the war.   Battle #2. Convince your Generals and Admirals that Agile is a good idea. Not only do you need to have a powerful General to formulate the winning strategy for the organization, but that General needs to be able to get all of the other Generals and Admirals moving in the same direction.  What organization doesn’t want to achieve “higher productivity and lower cost, improved employee engagement and job satisfaction, faster time to market, higher quality, and improved stakeholder satisfaction”?  Reported Benefits of Agile Development – Mountain Goat Software Mike Cohn  But, change is hard and Agile thinking and concepts are very different from traditional ways of thinking, and the ways that companies have always done things.  A commitment from leadership to respect, and uphold Agile, as well as a commitment to invest in the necessary tools, training, and process is required.  Battle #3. Convince One Team that Agile is a good idea, and start using it in the trenches Once you’ve got commitment from leadership, piloting Agile with a team is the next obstacle.  This may involve convincing and training, and will most certainly slow current perceived project momentum down while the team churns with retraining their way of thinking.  But, spending the time with this first team is foundational to moving it to the rest of the organization.  After all, individual and team commitment are the key component of Agile success.  I think Eisenhower was referring to Agile teams when he said “Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.” It won’t be perfect, some project casualties will happen.  But, in my experience what emerged from this first team was a model for other teams to follow, as well as an underlying excitement and enthusiasm that infected the rest of the organization.  Battle #4. Enable the One Team with the proper weapons and tools to help them tackle challenges with Agile Teams need the weapons to organize their work, as well as to automate tasks to create organization and as much automation as possible to thwart the enemy.  Enabling the One Team with these powerful weapons, will give them the tools to really embrace Agile.  Figuring out how to apply Agile for the One Team and across the organization is a big hurdle.  This requires investment in time and resources to make these tools successful and possible moving away from legacy tools and ways of doing things.  Some of the most effective weapons in the war are the ones that make life easier for the team, to communicate, collaborate, and create a continuous flow of work.  And making the tools scalable at the outset to be able to share Agile best practices, processes, and resources to create wins across the entire organization is a key battle strategy to create long term success.  Battle #5. Let the One Team's success be your Battle Cry to the rest of the organization Finally, once you have so many wins under your belt, the rest of the Organization will see the success, and want it too.  Agile ideas make sense, and once the One Team overcomes the hurdles and makes the investment in making Agile successful they become the rallying force that the rest of the organization wants to be part of.  It is not an easy war to win, and there will be many casualties along the way; from overcoming old ways of thinking and doing things to embracing new tools and expectations around how work moves through the organization.  But, by following these simple strategies you can win your war on Agile too! By arming yourself with the right tools and mindset, you too can win the Agile war. Viva La Revolution!  We provide Agile training, to check out the schedule click here  
How to Spark an Agile Revolution: 5 Steps to Win the War
Elizabeth Volini
Rated 4.0/5 based on 20 customer reviews
How to Spark an Agile Revolution: 5 Steps to Win the War 191
How to Spark an Agile Revolution: 5 Steps to Win the War

A year and a half ago, if projects were our battles, my company was on the losing side.  The battleground of the IT project portfolio at our Company was a mess — ineffective communication, extreme frustration, and stalled projects across the organization. 

But then a spark of Agile inspiration — fueled by new Agile tools — ignited an organization-wide revolution. A grass-roots Agile Scrum model has been our winning battle strategy.  This article will tell you the story of an Agile revolution and how we conquered our foes. 

Our Agile Revolution was won by chipping away at our disorganized, decentralized, top down project approach, one battle at a time.  I can identify 5 battles that once catapulted our success to win the war to become an Agile company:

Battle #1. Convince one individual that the Agile war is a good idea and worth fighting. 
Having an organizational Coach or Champion is key.  Many people think of Agile as a buzzword or a fad, or that it doesn’t apply to their particular area of the business.  The core concepts of Agile are universally valuable.  Certainly Agile started as a Development discipline, but it can be successful for any part of the organization.  Fifteen months after adopting Scrum, 86% of Salesforce.com employees were having a “good time” or the “best time.” Only 40% said that before adopting Scrum.  92% would recommend agile to others.  Perhaps employees like agile because there’s 2/3rds less overtime according to University of Calgary research.  At SingleHop, a managed services hosting company, a single Agile Champion turned into 85% of the organization using Agile in 2 years.

These are the benefits that Agile promises for everyone. Having a passionate Champion in the organization that understands and believes in the benefits of Agile is the only way to start to formulate a strategy to win the war.  

Battle #2. Convince your Generals and Admirals that Agile is a good idea.
Not only do you need to have a powerful General to formulate the winning strategy for the organization, but that General needs to be able to get all of the other Generals and Admirals moving in the same direction.  What organization doesn’t want to achieve “higher productivity and lower cost, improved employee engagement and job satisfaction, faster time to market, higher quality, and improved stakeholder satisfaction”?  Reported Benefits of Agile Development – Mountain Goat Software Mike Cohn 

But, change is hard and Agile thinking and concepts are very different from traditional ways of thinking, and the ways that companies have always done things.  A commitment from leadership to respect, and uphold Agile, as well as a commitment to invest in the necessary tools, training, and process is required. 

Battle #3. Convince One Team that Agile is a good idea, and start using it in the trenches
Once you’ve got commitment from leadership, piloting Agile with a team is the next obstacle.  This may involve convincing and training, and will most certainly slow current perceived project momentum down while the team churns with retraining their way of thinking.  But, spending the time with this first team is foundational to moving it to the rest of the organization.  After all, individual and team commitment are the key component of Agile success.  I think Eisenhower was referring to Agile teams when he said “Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.” It won’t be perfect, some project casualties will happen.  But, in my experience what emerged from this first team was a model for other teams to follow, as well as an underlying excitement and enthusiasm that infected the rest of the organization. 

Battle #4. Enable the One Team with the proper weapons and tools to help them tackle challenges with Agile
Teams need the weapons to organize their work, as well as to automate tasks to create organization and as much automation as possible to thwart the enemy.  Enabling the One Team with these powerful weapons, will give them the tools to really embrace Agile.  Figuring out how to apply Agile for the One Team and across the organization is a big hurdle.  This requires investment in time and resources to make these tools successful and possible moving away from legacy tools and ways of doing things.  Some of the most effective weapons in the war are the ones that make life easier for the team, to communicate, collaborate, and create a continuous flow of work.  And making the tools scalable at the outset to be able to share Agile best practices, processes, and resources to create wins across the entire organization is a key battle strategy to create long term success. 

Battle #5. Let the One Team's success be your Battle Cry to the rest of the organization
Finally, once you have so many wins under your belt, the rest of the Organization will see the success, and want it too.  Agile ideas make sense, and once the One Team overcomes the hurdles and makes the investment in making Agile successful they become the rallying force that the rest of the organization wants to be part of.  It is not an easy war to win, and there will be many casualties along the way; from overcoming old ways of thinking and doing things to embracing new tools and expectations around how work moves through the organization.  But, by following these simple strategies you can win your war on Agile too!

By arming yourself with the right tools and mindset, you too can win the Agile war. Viva La Revolution! 

We provide Agile training, to check out the schedule click here


 

Elizabeth

Elizabeth Volini

Blog Author

Elizabeth Volini is the Director of Project Management for SingleHop, a cloud services infrastructure provider in Chicago, IL. She is a leader in IT Project and Program Management for 15 years.

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How to Apply Agile Scrum Methodology With an Online Project Management Tool

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How to Apply Agile Scrum Methodology With an Online Project Management Tool
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Personal Development Path Under Scrum Alliance Certification System

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6 Skills You Need to Be a Great Product Owner

The well-known quotation by Roman Pichler of Agile Product Management states as ‘The Product owner plans, distributes, composes, and tracks work from his or her level down’. And, I feel it's quite valid! Suppose you own any product, independent of whether it is a technical one or something that is used for general purposes. At that point, you should think about how to execute the prominent errands that are mentioned above superbly.  Plus, there are some more exclusive traits that an effective product proprietor must have to gain tremendous achievement with different classification in product owner role. Thus, if you are someone like that then you ought to not just expect that your product will turn into a tremendous success one fine day if you have not cultured the right behavioral qualities within yourself.  Need a comprehensive idea regarding the same? 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But, it should be a totally discrete group which is not a formal one and still can help you with accomplishing different works about which you might not be a specialist.  2.  Immensely knowledgeable about the product   Well, if you own a specific product then you should know about it inside out. Additionally, you should not only think about the product but also what is the scope of the same in the market.  On doing so, you can get a crystal clear idea regarding what sort of feedback and popularity your product will get. You ought to be ready to furnish with productive guidance to the development group so that your product doesn't need to endure at any point in time.  3. An awesome storyteller  If you need to be an amazing product proprietor then you ought to undeniably know the strategy of simply slicing the user's story into the product backlog and conveying it to the developers. Likewise, a standout amongst the most exclusive responsibilities of yours ought to be to figure out what can transform the story into a product feature that will in-turn have the capacity to entertain the clients.  A by and large and helpful stream diagram of splitting a user story is mentioned beneath. Just take a glance over:    4. Extremely communicative  The best product proprietors are fundamentally natural communicators. So, if you need your name to be considered as one among them then you ought to absolutely know how to leverage a sound correspondence so that you can get your point across and give supportive and undiluted guidance to the development team.  You ought to be absolutely astounding about speaking and understanding both the customer's and developer’s dialects. Thus neither the developers nor the clients will feel chafed to converse with you.  5. A great issue solver  On the off chance, you can't deal with a contention smartly then PO is certainly not the correct designation for you! Truly, with regards to building up a product, there emerge many clashes filled circumstances which are needed to be settled out without hurting anybody and thus coming up with a decent solution. The issues usually emerge when individuals battle about potential resources and furthermore do awful politicking.  So, as a product owner, you should have the capacity and strength to engage when things gets troublesome. You need to collaborate so that you can limit the negative viewpoints as far as possible and also you must be an excellent arbiter.  6. An agile individual  When you are the proprietor of any product, at that point sticking into certain things and convictions stoutly is not something that you ought to do. Rather, you should be able to examine, comprehend and acknowledge the facts that are pointed out by the members of your group. Consequently, you will come up with just the best elements regarding your product.  If you are sufficiently flexible then it will give solace to others while discussing different issues with you. What's more, you will undoubtedly have the capacity to take the advantage of their expertise. Likewise, you should have the capacity to control your outrage if any previously unknown impediments or constraints come up suddenly.  Final Word So, if you are working as a product owner yet at the same time have not built up the skills that are discussed above, then simply make a move soon! Also, there are numerous other different qualities that you ought to incorporate into your nature like being fun and sensible, loaded with focus and functionality etc for being a successful product owner. But, as I feel the previously listed ones are extremely compelling, so I came up with an explanation of the same! Hope you will also find these potent enough!  
6 Skills You Need to Be a Great Product Owner
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6 Skills You Need to Be a Great Product Owner

The well-known quotation by Roman Pichler of Agile Product Management ... Read More