I was at the gym the other day running on the treadmill when my mind began to wander. As you often see, trainers were moving around the gym with their clients, helping to provide guidance, instruction and motivation. I was suddenly overcome by that metaphorical feeling you get when you subconsciously connect two completely different but related things in your head.
I started thinking about the Agile Transformation conversations I have with clients who are, for the first time, thinking about going down that path. I started thinking about the reflexive assumption that I am often greeted with, that becoming truly Agile is nothing more than an initiative, project, training or certification. We often make the same, incorrect assumption about our own health and fitness – that the answer lies not in a total change of habits, decisions and actions, but in a crash diet or a few intense sessions with a personal trainer.
With new Agile Transformation clients, before talking assessments, road maps or coaches, etc., my initial goal is to ensure that they are fully aware of the commitment required to realize real ROI on any Agile Transformation investment. Why is this so important, and why is this so often overlooked? Here are three of the most common symptoms of an inadequate commitment to Agile Transformation:
- Wasted time and money
- Spending money on training or a certification that increases Agile knowledge and proficiency but doesn’t really create change, is simply a waste of time and money. If the investment isn’t enough to actually produce ROI, that time and money could have been applied to something else.
- Frustration and lack of buy-in
- Change is never easy, and it is human nature to hold onto the old habits and methodologies that are most comfortable to you. Nothing helps to advance change like success, but conversely, nothing stifles change like failure, frustration and a lack of buy-in from stakeholders. Only partially committing to Agile will most certainly create this type of sentiment with stakeholders.
- Unnecessary delays to eventual transformation
- Ultimately, most organizations that commit to Agile Transformation will get there. The question is when and at what cost? Often it makes more sense to delay the start of your transformation efforts until you have the funding and commitment necessary to realize ROI.
Agile Transformation, like health and fitness, is a new way of thinking and behaving and exists on a spectrum of maturity. The whole purpose of becoming Agile is to increase speed to market, increase efficiency, decrease waste and ultimately serve customers and members better and faster than ever before. The investment that goes into becoming truly Agile, no matter where you are on the spectrum of maturity, can only be validated by the ROI that you generate.
True Agile ROI is only created when real and sustainable Agile change occurs at all levels, to include not only the more tangible SDLC changes that we are all so familiar with but also the human side of Agile Transformation, such as stake-holder buy-in. When the necessary commitment to Agile Transformation isn’t agreed to up front or budgeted for, you are planning for failure, ensuring money will be wasted and setting your stakeholders up for frustration and disappointment. To avoid these pitfalls, you have to be ALL IN!
By Mike Hoke, Client Partner