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What is the goal?
I seem to lead with that question a lot these days. Is the goal to practice Scrum? Is the goal to apply SAFe? Is the goal to use some other Agile delivery framework? Is the goal to uphold the values and principles of the Agile Manifesto?
They are all means to an end. Your goal depends on your organization. Fundamentally, every for-profit organization I’ve come in contact with has pretty much the same primary goal. Make money!
Before committing budget for that next project, let’s first ask ourselves if we know our core business drivers.
Common Business Drivers
- Higher Quality
- Shorter time to market
- Lower Costs
But let’s look at this again. What is the primary goal? Make money!
How do we achieve the goal?
- Through predictability, we get better at forecasting sales and delivery (lead times)
- Through higher quality, we lower costs of rework and increase customer satisfaction
- With shorter time to market, we can get an earlier ROI and increase cash flow
- With lower costs, we free up capital for other areas of our organization
Answer these questions:
- What is your primary organizational goal?
- What are your core business drivers, relative to your primary organizational goal?
- If you don’t know the goal, how do you know where to spend your time or money?
- How do you know where to start?
Mike Cottmeyer, LeadingAgile’s founder, asked the question on the company blog.
It seems to me back in the day, agile was about getting product into market faster… it was about working with customers to make sure we were building the stuff they really wanted… it was about craftsmanship and quality and excellence. There is a part of me that feels like some of us have taken things like self-organization, empowerment, and collaboration to an illogical extreme. Potentially to the detriment of some of our other goals.
Though I do not agree with their position, I do get the feeling from some that they see Agile as a disruptive cause.
What are your thoughts? Take my straw poll!
Yes, Agile is becoming a social cause.
No, Agile is about getting product to market faster
Even in an environment where you have a single, ideal, co-located cross-functional team, I believe you’re going to need processes and tools. The more complex and distributed your organization, the more processes and tools you’re going to need. Doesn’t sound very agile does it? Well, get over it. You’re going to need processes and tools to enable individuals and interactions. If you can’t sit in your chair and make direct eye contact with everyone on your team, you need more processes and tools. Hell, even if you can see everyone, you’ll still need processes and tools. What is Scrum? A process framework. What is a team board? A communications tool.
I’m not dismissing the Agile Manifesto. I do prefer individual and interactions over processes and tools. I’m just trying to establish some context. Most of us don’t work in that ideal agile world. Rather, we have to operate within a series of non-ideal organizational constraints. Most people are sold on the idea of Agile. The values and principles resonate with us. But my job (and LeadingAgile) is to understand the goals of an organization and help them reach them. We start by laying the foundation for an agile enterprise by forming teams and installing a Lean/Kanban based governance model, but maintaining focus on longer term planning, risk management, and dependency management.
Before laying the foundation, I look at their current organizational structure, I look at their current governance (processes) and I look at their current metrics to see how good that structure and governance is working out for them.
Future State with Process and Tools
Whatever the future state looks like, I expect two things to help get us there.
1. We need to provide clarity by making process policies explicit.
2. We need to demonstrate incremental improvements by using tools.
Do you agree with me? Maybe you disagree with me. I’d love to read your feedback.
Image Credit: Pictofigo
When coaching clients who use physical team boards, I’m seeing more of them gravitate away from pins and painters tape and toward the use of magnetic whiteboards, sticky-notes and index cards. I see them making a substantial upfront investment in the whiteboards and then again with magnets. If the magnets are too costly, I see them make the lessor but incremental investment in painters tape, post-it notes and paper index cards. So, how do you eliminate the waste of the disposable index card or post-it note? Just combine the magnet and card!
To be clear, I’ve got no skin in the game with this company. I’m not being paid to write this and I’ll make no money if you purchase their product. I just think this is a product that you’ll like and I think it’s worth writing about.
Though I usually don’t do product reviews, I found the product from Story Cards particularly compelling. I asked them to send me a few samples so I could see for myself if this is something I would recommend to others. Well, it is!
If you purchase a group of these reusable story cards, say goodbye to sticky-notes, painters tape, magnets or pins. They come in four colors: blue, red, green, white. These reusable story cards are made of a flexible magnetic material on one side and whiteboard material on the other. They peel off easily but have enough grip that they won’t blow off the board like post-it notes do. Great idea! Thank you storycards.co and day5labs.