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Why on earth implement Agile?

This is the sort of conversation that I wished that my Agile Coach had with me when I was first contemplating implementing Agile.

"I want to implement Agile"

"Great. Why's that?"

"What do you mean?"

"Well, let me put it another way! Why do you want to implement Agile?"

"Because I do and someone told me that's it really cool"

"Okay. What problems are you trying to solve or, more importantly, what benefits do you hope to achieve?"

"I have absolutely no idea. Is that really important?" "Well, do you normally change something if there is no reason? Or, do you normally start a project without business value?"

"Of course not!"

"So, again, my question; why would you want to implement Agile if you don't know what you are trying to solve and you don't know the benefit you hope to achieve?"

"I guess you have a point!"

"That's good, because so do I"

Unfortunately I didn't have an Agile Coach and this conversation never happened. So, I never questioned myself as to what problem I was looking to solve and, moreover, if I even needed to implement Agile.

How many organisations do exactly the same mistake? In my experience, loads! How do I know? Because I always ask this question!

The trouble is, the problem is not always clear because in IT we are not dealing with a manufacturing process but a flow of information. So, it is really important to open up the invisible black box of IT delivery. How do you do that? Well, you need to 'visualise the flow'.

Well, that's easier said than done! Yep, but not as hard as you might think and there are a variety of techniques to help such as mapping value streams, cumulative flow diagrams, etc.

Only when we have successfully visualised the flow and understood the waste, blockages, cost of delay, slow cycle times, queues, technical debt etc., can we start to understand how to solve the problems. And, believe it or not, sometimes Agile is not the answer to all our problems and certainly not as a single Silver Bullet.

So, if your organisation wants to implement Agile and no-one is asking you why, ask yourself why are they not asking 'why'.

At Radtac understanding the problem, visualising the flow and recommending appropriate solutions to solve the root causes of the problems are key to our initial engagement. Moreover, we will apply an economic model and create a shared risk/reward contract to help you deliver the agile transformation.

What's shared risk/reward? Well, we will put 'skin in the game' and if we do not create the business benefit gleaned from the economic model then we will not receive our final payment. Simple.

Author

Darren Wilmshurst

Darren Wilmshurst

With his strategic C-suite-oriented approach to IT leadership – and his infectious energy – Darren has successfully delivered multi-million pound business transformations for e-commerce sites, ERP implementations, outsourcing and offshoring, including multiple Agile transformations. Read more