[Link] Embracing Agile

The article “Embracing Agile” in the May 2016 of Harvard Business Review
by Darrell K. Rigby, Jeff Sutherland and Hirotaka Takeuchi is a landmark in the history of management, especially considering that is in an institution such as the HBR magazine that an article about Agile appears.

After a brief introduction and a brief history about its genesis, the article explains its manifesto, its principles and how Agile works goes using the three most used frameworks: Scrum, Kanban and Lean, but mostly Scrum.

Innovation is what agile is all about. Although the method is less useful in routine operations and processes, these days most companies operate in highly dynamic environments. They need not just new products and services but also innovation in functional processes, particularly given the rapid spread of new software tools. Companies that create an environment in which agile flourishes find that teams can churn out innovations faster in both those categories.

Following is a section about where Agile works better (authors use the terms “where it works and where not” …)

And finally a large section about how to introduce agile: start small, first learn then adapt, get top support, remove barriers.

Large companies typically launch change programs as massive efforts. But the most successful introductions of agile usually start small. They often begin in IT, where software developers are likely to be familiar with the principles. Then agile might spread to another function, with the original practitioners acting as coaches. Each success seems to create a group of passionate evangelists who can hardly wait to tell others in the organization how well agile works.

Bottom line, the final paragraph:

Agile innovation has revolutionized the software industry, which has arguably undergone more rapid and profound change than any other area of business over the past 30 years. Now it is poised to transform nearly every other function in every industry. At this point, the greatest impediment is not the need for better methodologies, empirical evidence of significant benefits, or proof that agile can work outside IT. It is the behavior of executives. Those who learn to lead agile’s extension into a broader range of business activities will accelerate profitable growth.

A great companion of this article is the review written by Steve Denning on Forbes.

It’s a generally positive review but Steve Denning highlights a couple of points which are missing or incorrect, primarily that Agile is a mindset and not a methodology, it’s a different culture and requires that the entire organisation embraces it.

For those who live and breathe and implement Agile on a daily basis, Agile is a mindset. Agile isn’t just a methodology to be implemented within the existing management framework. Agile is a dramatically different framework for management itself. In the community of Agile practitioners, which now numbers in hundreds of thousands, Agile begins with a different view of the goal of the organization. […]

Agile aligns with Peter Drucker’s 1954 foundational insight: “The only valid purpose of a firm is to create a customer.” It is the management basis for the emerging Creative Economy. It is the foundation for continuous innovation. […]

“The highest priority,” as the Agile Manifesto states, “is to satisfy the customer.”

This is a revolutionary declaration. In most public firms today, the highest priority is not to satisfy the customer. The highest priority is to maximize shareholder value as reflected in the stock price.

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