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Author: Dr. Thomas Baxter |06/20/19

Balancing People, Process, and Technology for Great Agile Transformations

Agile is more than an individual framework, it is a journey of cultural change within an organization based upon Continuous Improvement. As an Agile Transformational Consultant, I am an agent of change for our clients. As Agilist’s, it is our job to help our clients see Agile for what it is and most importantly, what it is not.

I find it very amusing that the first question from a client usually surrounds what tools we are going to use to lead their transformation. Many ask if they can continue to use Jira or some other tool they have grown accustomed to. I like to tell them that we need to detail and verbalize their vision for the transformation. Why do they feel they need Agile? Ultimately, what challenges are they trying to solve? I also tell them that the tool we'll use is actually a virtual bubble level to ensure we are keeping them balanced.

Most look at me with confusion, as they wonder what this crazy Agile guy is talking about. I further tell them, at the roots of a transformation, an organization must strike a balance with their people, process, and technology elements. The level is simply a metaphor used as a mechanism for measuring the three critical aspects of an Agile transformation.

Have you ever wondered why a three-legged stool is so stable? It takes only three points to define a plane. On a flat floor, a three-legged stool is more stable than even a four-legged stool. In an Agile Transformation, we work to keep the balance between people, process, and technology (the three legs of our Agile stool), all based upon the vision of the organization. To do this, we begin with an Agile Assessment to examine the structural integrity of each of the legs of the stool as it relates to supporting the organizational vision. After all, if one leg is not the same length, the opportunity for it tipping and crashing down is inevitable.

From the results of the assessment, we can quickly find the gaps and inefficiency’s and create a roadmap to transition the client from their current state to the future state with as little disruption to the organization as possible. The roadmap would minimally concentrate on:

People – Ensuring your colleagues have the confidence that they have the right skills to be successful in your organization under the new model.

  • Make sure that you have identified all the people related to the organization’s challenges. It is easy to miss people.
  • Look at the whole person and consider what you may not know about them.
  • Are they open to change?
  • Focus on trust, empathy, and servant leadership
  • Can they work as an integral member of a team?

Process – Process flows are restructured so that inefficiencies are removed or minimized.

  • Always think in terms of business ideals and language. Don’t get hung up in talking about technological requirements.
  • Take a holistic systems approach to the whole challenge, not just a piece of it.
  • How will you ensure you are on track? Identify your definition of done and success.

Technology – The right technology is used to match the model being implemented.

  • Is your technology flexible?
  • Does your technology provide a good user experience?
  • Is your technology intuitive and easy to use?

A clear roadmap that has been approved by the organization is essential to the success of any transformation. Equally important is the need to re-assess the clients progress by capturing and reviewing metrics to ensure the legs are being transformed at the same speed mitigating disruption to the organization.

Conclusion

Before you start your transformation, ensure that you have built a stable and level three-legged stool-based upon people, process, and technology. The biggest mistake that I see organizations make is under-estimating how long establishing these tenets can take. The culture at your organization has developed over many years, changing it overnight is simply not possible without causing significant disruption. Take your time and make your change sticky.

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