As you’ve gone through your adoption of agile, you have likely realized it is not as simple as it seems.  There is no perfect fit, no right out of the box execution that is the silver bullet to becoming a high performing team.  Every team that has truly embraced Agile has realized the meaning of “it’s a journey not an event”.   Many organizations are now realizing that true business value can get lost.  Your success hinges on balanced decision-making applied throughout each leg of the journey, putting new emphasis on leadership skills at all levels.

The Journey

The fluid environment of Agile creates the potential to optimize decision-making throughout the entire development process; even to optimize the development process if needed.  The ability to adapt to maximize business value is the key to success, not the efficient execution of a set of repeatable steps. 

This is a big cultural change for most organizations because it defers decision-making down into the organization to people who have been taught to follow direction, not create it.  This has caused senior leaders to be stretched as they have to “tap-in” to teams often just to keep them on track.  Bottom line, leadership skills are now needed at the most entry-level of positions in order to support the empowerment assumed in an agile environment. 

Developing your talent will scale your leaders and your teams throughout the journey to maturity. The challenge is traditional leadership development programs are antiquated for this fast-paced, empowered environment and do not provide senior leaders with much-needed support.

Balanced Agile = Valued Agile

Balancing your agile practices without losing the benefits of the agile philosophy is essential for teams to move from good outcomes to extraordinary outcomes.  Sounds easy but balance comes in many forms. 

  1. Traditional business processes vs agile processes… A misconception often believed is that all of the old should go and be replaced by the new.  Not true. Taking this approach may exponentially complicate your agile adoption by removing all knowledge of practice people currently possess.  Taking the time to create a best mix environment of both will not only assist in adoption but will minimize the risk of a process gap between the delivery teams and their business stakeholders.
  2. Multiple value input streams… Development is not just driven by business function requirements in today’s world.  Inputs from User Experience, Cybersecurity, and Technology are necessary, valuable, and at times as important as the product itself.  Balancing these inputs creates additional complexity and stress for teams, furthering the need for leadership skills across the board.  Escalating every request for priority clogs the communication channels with non-value-add activity hindering empowerment.
  3. Velocity for Value… Impressed upon teams is achieving velocity. While this is absolutely desirable it cannot be to the detriment of contemplation.  High value teams must embrace a healthy friction within their environment to ensure contemplation of their decisions and necessary course correction when needed – operating innovators vs operators.  This fights off the risk of just getting to the wrong place quicker.