Agile Maturity

Moving from Method to Mindset


If you are reading the latest reports, you know that 94% of organizations are now practicing Agile and an increasing number of organizations are advancing to DevOps; however, both business value and full DevOps transformation still elude the majority. Before we lose momentum, we must shift our focus from the method of Agile to the mindset of Agile – the maturity of the people, Agile Maturity.

What do you desire from your Agile transformation? Simple execution at the team level will bring you higher velocity and quality; however, in most cases, this is only a small incremental improvement in business value with many organizations settling “safely” into standard quarterly releases. Transformation to Continuous Integration, Continuous Delivery and DevOps has real cost savings to organizations, millions in fact, along with improved security and risk mitigation. This change, without maturity, can quickly overwhelm a team under high business demand, who are already struggling to knock down a burgeoning backlog and are fighting the natural resistance found in traditional corporate environments.

The key to success is the development of the mindset of Agile to strategically drive progress from the bottom-up. At the point of maturity, you will see the change from people executing Agile to Being Agile, and now that long-term sustainable value becomes clear. The challenge is getting them there… navigating the delicate balance of empowerment without abandonment to develop their Agile Maturity. The process of moving through this type of change can be difficult but it does follow a pattern and knowing this pattern can accelerate your teams through it. We call it the Crawl – Walk – Run of change.

Crawl is the difficult first step when executing a new process, Agile Adoption. This step comes with disbelief, resistance and cumbersome execution slowing productivity. The challenge is establishing a temporary support system for the team in the learning phase without creating dependencies that undermine their empowerment. For teams to drive success they must focus on repeatable execution reinforced by measurements of consistency and productivity with the long-term goal of independence.

Walk is the completion of adoption where execution becomes consistent and velocity increases. The “State of Agile” report measures consistency in process as maturity, not the maturity of the people. The challenge in this phase is resisting the urge to change the process in response to the stress of higher demand. Change at this stage throws a ripple effect across the team lengthening the learning phase and delaying the maturity needed. Success comes as they fend off the desire to revert to old habits allowing the process to become automatic.

Run is when teams execute Agile with autonomy without effort. Teams move their thoughts from execution to aspiration as they recognize their higher potential becoming advocates for change. Run is the proficiency needed to free the mind to think strategically, but time to develop impactful strategies is often overlooked in favor of the measurement of velocity. Organizations can stop here and have much benefit from Agile transformation, but if they seek long term value then developing Agile Maturity is essential.

Maturity is when teams leverage their mastery of the Agile process to seize business opportunities and adapt their practice to affect higher outcomes. Innovating effective change, challenging norms and striving for improved performance, work-life balance, and business outcomes. A continuous cycle of improvement across all pillars, the people, the process and the product. Being Agile.

The High Performing Cycle of Being Agile is the goal. The pattern of innovating change then accelerating the change cycle to the next level of performance. This cycle unleashes the sustainable value of Agile where change is no longer a detriment, it is an asset enabling quick response in a rapidly changing environment. Strive for this high-performing cycle accomplished through the development of the people and the focus on the Mindset of Agile.

The next generation of tech talent, those raised in a digital age, are entering our industry with a huge jumpstart of understanding. They don’t have to learn technology; they live it, and they will crush the typical and expected learning curve of our past. So now is the time to ensure we are not limiting or suppressing their potential by our historical expectations and practices. Focusing on enabling the highest performance through our people is the future, start now.

So, how does Agile Maturity relate to BMX? Learning Agile is like riding a bike, the learning phase may be challenging but the outcome…riding a bike is well worth it. And for my generation, that was the achievement, the ability to ride to the store or a friend’s house. But for one future generation that was not enough and they took bike riding to a whole new level…BMX.

We at Arrieda are passionate about maximizing the potential of Agile through its People, Being Agile turns valuable teams into invaluable assets.