More and more organizations are working agile or are going to work agile. This impacts how changes and/or projects are done: the processes, tools, terminology, the roles and the governance, and last but not least: how people have to behave. Many different agile frameworks & methods can be used, but in general they share these characteristics: working in small, autonomous, cross-functional teams, short cycle time, and focusing on customer value.
Different frameworks and methods are suitable for different types of changes. Creating a user-friendly interface for a new system fits very well with an agile way of working. While a waterfall approach could fit better for building an (offshore) data warehouse. All kinds of tools (complex and simple) are available to help choose a suitable method.
RGP organized two dialogues on “Managing change/managing projects in an agile environment”. In these interactive sessions RGP’s associate consultants Diane Blake and Remco Hogenbirk, both experienced agile implementors and agile coaches, shared their knowledge and hands-on experiences. Most project managers, scrum masters and product owners have experience with at least one of the agile methods and are well equipped to mitigate risks of agile changes and/or to intervene when agile change gets stuck. Working in an agile environment requires not only a different way of working, but also a different mindset and the ability to experiment when things don’t work well.
Diane and Remco shared several dilemmas they faced when working in agile environments. For instance:
- How to improve team results for an immature team who are not yet used to work autonomously? Remember; autonomous teams are not free from working with discipline or according to high standards.
- How to act when parts of an organization are working agile, while other parts of the organization are not yet used to this and require non-agile deliverable such as long-term plans for cost, benefits, communication and resources?
- If an organization uses only one change/project method, how to work within this method in case the nature of required change does not fit with this?
The agile principles can bring major benefits. Also waterfall projects can adopt some of the agile principles and elements for better results. In the dialogues, working in short cycles was most recognized as a good instrument to decrease risks in waterfall projects.
To share knowledge between colleagues, like in these dialogues, help us to recognize issues, to use agile’s strong points, avoid its pitfalls and to gain possible ways to manage these.