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To drive a successful agile transformation, there needs to be alignment with the organization’s overall strategy. For this to happen, you need to answer three important questions:
- What are your business objectives?
- What are the problems you are trying to solve?
- How will agile help?
Answering these questions involves rethinking all aspects of how you run your business.
- Vision and purpose: prior to committing to a transformation plan, executives and transformation leaders must understand the problems they are trying to solve and the goals they are trying to achieve. Organizations can fall into the trap of deciding to go agile because it’s the trendy thing to do, without fully understanding the “why.” Aligning on a vision and purpose will help establish the tone and speed of your transformation, as well as shape your communication strategy. Having a clear vision for your transformation is a critical first step to gain commitment from your people.
- Executive ownership and alignment: it’s important for executive teams to be actively engaged in an agile transformation. In addition to understanding and aligning themselves with the changes that will come during and as a result of the transformation, they must also be willing to lead by example—by changing how they operate, improving transparency, and taking steps to create an environment of trust. Ideally, the organization should designate a single executive to drive the transformation, as “ownership by committee” has rarely seen favourable results. In addition, the organization needs to cultivate champions to drive the execution of the transformation.
- Agile transformation roadmap: having a living, breathing roadmap that guides your transformation journey is critical, as most agile transformations are often multi-streamed, time-consuming, and involve various groups that may not have worked together in the past. Each enterprise’s transformation and transformation roadmap will be unique depending on its objectives, strategy, culture, and level of agile maturity, among other factors. A successful roadmap charts out the journey from your current state to your intended target state while listing out major intermediate steps. At the same time, your roadmap cannot be prescriptive. It needs to be flexible so that you can continually and proactively adapt throughout your journey.
- Business and technology roadmap: the success of your agile transformation hinges on the synchronization of your organization’s business and technology operations. To better understand this relationship, consider the context of product development. In this example, the business owns the vision for the evolution of products and understands how their products will ultimately drive business outcomes. Technology needs to understand the vision so it can define the capabilities and technologies best suited to enable those business outcomes. By working together to keep their respective roadmaps in sync, business and technology can strike the right balance between predictability and flexibility to pivot when necessary. As your agile organization matures, your business and technology roadmaps should converge into one. When there is misalignment between business and technology, it can become a distraction and slow down product delivery and your transformation.
- Business outcomes and key performance indicators (KPI): if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it. Ultimately, every minimum viable product (MVP) should be linked to a product KPI, and every KPI should be linked to a core business objective. By tying initiatives to business outcomes, you increase transparency and accountability at all levels. This results in a more effective investment of your resources. With the launch of each MVP, you need to be relentless about measuring KPIs and sharing the results enterprise-wide, good or bad. This creates a culture that is fundamentally rooted in achieving business objectives.