Written by Jennifer Romero-Greene
on March 08, 2022

Throughout my Agile Transformation consulting engagements, clients often conflate their goals with the tools they will use to achieve those goals. There is an easy distinction that sometimes gets blurry when we relax our focus during our Agile Transformation. Let’s discuss the Goals first.

Why do organizations want to become Agile? The top two reasons are:

  • to increase productivity (usually with a faster time to market).
  • to effectively manage changing priorities.

The Greek Philosopher Heraclitus is credited for the quote “Change is the only constant in life.” He lived in 500 B.C., what would he think now? We live in a rapidly changing world with constantly changing priorities and Agility positions organizations to effectively respond to and realize value from change.

Goals versus Tools

Webster’s defines a goal as:

something that you are trying to do or achieve, or the end toward which effort is directed

The definitions of a goal align with why organizations become Agile; faster time to market and the ability to manage changing priorities.

But how does an organization become Agile? It is often called a journey, not a destination. It is a process and a transformation. You can’t just mandate that “we are now Agile!” It is a process that requires developing tools to assist in the transformation journey.

The Webster definition of tool is:

something used in performing an operation or necessary in the practice of a vocation or profession, or a means to an end

Agile and DevOps both can be used as means to achieving the business goal of Agile Transformation.

Agile and DevOps

When my husband was in the military, he went through a “Tools and Their Uses” course which was, “use a hammer to pound a nail, not a wrench.” A wrench as well as a hammer are both designed for specific and different purposes. An electric drill helps speed up the process and is a multi-use tool. You need a drill bit to make a hole, but you can then swap the bit out for a screwdriver tip and use the same tool to speed up the process of screwing in the screw. However, what happens if I have a hundred to put in? It would take too much time to swap out the bit for each screw. To achieve the desired result of being faster, we need to get a second drill and/or person. This is also true with Agile and DevOps as tools used in your Agile Transformation Journey.

Remember our goals: Faster time to market and the ability to manage changing priorities. Certainly, being Agile is the best tool to use when trying to reach both goals. Agile is adopting a mindset that “change is good and welcomed,” and it enables us to create products with a faster time to market. It is the right tool, but is it the only tool? If we combine Agile with DevOps, we can achieve our goals at a faster and sustainable pace.

Scaled Agile Framework® defines DevOps as:

a mindset, a culture, and a set of technical practices. It provides communication, integration, automation, and close cooperation among all the people needed to plan, develop, test, deploy, release, and maintain a Solution.

DevOps is an electric drill with the capability of having two drill bits attached. One for drilling the hole and the other for screwing in the screw. By combining it with Agile, you unleash an even more powerful tool, the collective mindset of your teams. Combining Agile with DevOps has unlimited potential as tools to achieve your business goals and create a sustainable framework to ensure your organization can manage priorities and increase productivity.

© Scaled Agile, Inc.