Practical Agile Transformation framework -  Start with a vision

Last updated on: Published by: Asad Safari 1

“You should not do Agile, You should be Agile”. This is the most used buzzword by agile coaches to promote agile values. After +10 years in the agile world, I think this is a wrong approach too. 

Sometimes as an Agile coach, we are trying to sell our service, “We deliver agile coaching service to firms that help them to be Agile”. 

Based on my experience, most agile transformation failed because we did not have the right direction. Setting “Doing Agile” or “Being Agile” as a goal is not a good objective for a change program. 

This kind of change programs is buzzword centric. Agile mindset helped us to create “Customer-centric” products, but why we define a change program “buzzword-centric”? for example, “We want to implement OKR”, “We want to implement Scrum”, “We want to adopt agile”. 

So, you will hire a buzzword-coach, Trainer and she will teach us how to do this. And people will show resistance against the buzzword. 

Outcome-centric vs Buzzword-centric

A Customer-centric or Outcome-centric change program, see the change from lens of the customer and not service provider(Like agile coach). Let’s see an example.

Charles Revson, the founder of Revlon, said:

In the factory we make cosmetics; in the drugstore we sell hope.

Maybe as an agile consultant/trainer/coach, I want to sell my service to companies, but a company doesn’t want to be agile, they want to be able to do awesome things. We think agile will help them to reach the right competencies to do awesome things. 

A customer-centric change program, will focus on the outcome and not just implementing different frameworks or practices or even values

Factful Agility Framework

I did not want to create another framework, I think we have enough frameworks. But based on my experience we have 2 main issues:

1- Most of the time an alone tool cannot solve our problems and in the real world we need to mix different tools.

2- There are lots of tools out there, and it makes it hard to choose them and mix them.

After working with +15 companies and +100 teams, I tried to create a container for these tools, That makes it easy to use them or choose them. I call this container “Factful Agility Framework”.

Some tools like, “Toyota Kata”, “Agile Fluency Model”, “Agenda Shift”, “Comparative Agility”, “Evidence-Based Management Guide”, and my own tools like “Change JTBD”, “Coaching Canvas Card”.

Explore: Start with the outcome

Let’s draw an outcome-based agile change program:

How to start an agile transformation program?

We used to dive into the agile frameworks and start to implement one of them and mostly scrum. But in the Factful Agility Framework, we start to explore, “Why our customer need to be agile?”

Start with “How we want things to be”

There are various reasons to be agile. We should help managers to find their own reason. 

I created a game to help them to do it faster and easier. I called this game “Change JTBD(Jobs-to-be-done)”

1- Print or write the following cards on sticky notes: (You can add your own cards too)

2- Invite key stakeholders of the change program to a workshop.

3- Ask them to prioritize these cards based on current reality.  

You can use dot voting for prioritization. Ask the group to cast their votes by placing a dot next to the items they feel the most strongly about. They may use stickers or markers to do this. As a rule of thumb, giving each participant five votes to cast works well.

Participants cast their votes all at once and they may vote more than once for a single item if they feel strongly about it. Once all the votes are cast, tally them, and if necessary make a list of the items by their new rank.

This prioritized list becomes the subject of discussion and decision making. In some cases, it may be useful to reflect on ideas that didn’t receive votes to verify that they haven’t been left behind without cause.

The result should be something like the below image:

4- Now categorize items by the Agile fluency model. Let’s map this card to agile fluency zones:

5- Explain the agile fluency model to workshop attendees. You can use this video too. 

6- Select the right Target

The Important part of this game is selecting the right target. In our example, based on votes, the second zone, Delivering is a suitable target for us.

Similarly, while each zone has value, each zone also brings challenges. Investing in more than you need could incur organizational backlash, and could even poison people’s perception of agile ideas in general.

Think of fluency as a ride on a bus. When you get on a bus, you buy a ticket for the zone that you want to reach. A zone that’s further away isn’t inherently more valuable; it just costs more and takes longer to get to. Sometimes you’ll buy a bus ticket for the suburbs, because you want to go to a big box store. Sometimes you’ll buy a ticket for downtown, because you want to see a play. Neither is inherently better — it all depends on what you need that day.

7- Create a transformation poster 

Now ask attendees to draw a poster with the following statements: 

1- How things are today 

2- Possible Solutions

3- How we want things to be (Use fluency model)

In this example, Agile fluency is a tool that helps you to set the right target.

8- Determine Key metrics

We need some lagging and leading metrics that show our progress against targets. These are quantitative targets. 

We can create a dashboard to visualize these metrics during the exploit.

We don’t need tons of metrics, we just need a few ones that make quantitative targets more clear and measurable. 

I mapped some of the popular metrics with agile fluency zones that you can use them:

Something like this:

Now we have a shared changed vision and a good reason for the change. It shows the direction.

In the next stories, I will share how to go the next steps, “Understand” and “Explore”. 

Please leave a comment for this story as feedback, Is this useful for you or not? Why we should continue if it’s not valuable 🙂 

Regards

Asad

About the Author:

Asad Safari is an Enterprise Lean/Agile Coach. He has worked as an Agile coach for more than 10 years with several enterprises and startups. He has more than 14 years of experience in the IT industry as a Software Developer, Tester, and finally an agile practitioner. You can follow Asad on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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