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The Spectrum of Agile Transformation

According to the latest Gartner research more than 40% of organisations are currently undergoing some sort of agile transformation. As consultants who operate mostly within project delivery organisations, we estimate that more than 80% of our client base are currently making a concerted effort to become more agile.

There is a lot to like about the premise of organisational agility. Agile principles include being more customer centric, being faster to market and being able to react quickly, without unnecessary bureaucracy. While the principles are universal, what agile actually means to organisations can differ markedly.

At Pledge Consulting, we believe that good agile delivery is not based on one methodology or tool and there is no clear or right answer as to how to ‘go Agile’. Agility should be thought of as a spectrum. While there are a many Agile methodologies (more than 50 at the last count!), very few businesses succeed in choosing a methodology and applying it ‘out of the box’. This is because while the principles are sound, organisations are like people; unique, complex and with differing appetites for change.

Another layer of complexity can arise when it comes to project governance. In larger organisations, it’s impossible to get away from the need for a ‘waterfall’ style of governance. Indeed, when projects are funded by the taxpayer or by shareholders it’s imperative that there is a level of transparency around how the projects are going in terms of cost and time. Similarly, if the project is delivering fixed scope (the customer knows exactly what they want), then it can be challenging to get full control if delivery is done in too agile a way.

Take a Spectrum Approach

We encourage our clients to think about the agile spectrum pragmatically and to choose their ideal place on that spectrum as the target end state. This approach is proven to be more successful than shoehorning a prescriptive method into an organisation that doesn’t have the maturity or the appetite to embrace an ‘out of the box’ approach to Agile transformation. This approach doesn’t generally need Coaches or Release Train Engineers (although sometimes it does!) because the end state feels like less of a transformation and more of an evolution. The new concepts are more likely to stick because not everything from the past is thrown out. Almost all successful agile transformations are a hybrid of methods to a greater or lesser extent.

Our Agile Transformation solutions deliver a fit- for- purpose approach. Not an out of the box solution, but one based on the organisation’s actual objectives. By embracing the parts of the Agile methodology(ies) that deliver the business improvements and by combining that (as far as possible) with the need for a structured project governance approach we can support the organisation to deliver faster, be more efficient and work as more cohesive teams, yet still provide the assurance of delivering on time, on budget and to an agreed scope.

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