In my last blog I shared my views on why Agile projects fail. This week I will talk about some of the reasons why Agile fails during an enterprise-wide adoption.
This issue is slightly trickier. Successful Agile adoption at an enterprise level needs to look at two aspects:
- One is in terms of how ‘Scaling’ happens vertically, across projects, programs and portfolios. Is the process repeatable across these various layers and the teams cohesively delivering against a common goal?
- The second is in terms of how the organization ‘Changes’
Since ‘Scaling’ is a widely discussed topic, I’d like to talk about organizational change.
Why is organizational change one of the most challenging aspects of Agile adoption? Simple; it needs people to change. How does Agile adoption impact people? Let’s take a look at some aspects:
- Structural changes: To ensure that business value is delivered in small increments of time, the structure need to be aligned to the business value. So if the business value lies in delivering the end-to-end feature and not a component, teams need to be aligned accordingly. Often this requires a complete organizational restructuring OR ring-fencing of teams.
- Flattening of hierarchies: The structural change also requires flattening of hierarchies to enable smoother flow of work. Many organizations are unable to take this decision and end up designing teams which are not aligned to the expected value deliverable OR still have the same age-old hierarchical systems which lead to bottlenecks, limited agility and frustration in the teams.
- Behavior and mind set: Moving away from the command and control mode of operation to an approach which encourages Servant leadership – not only at a project level – but also at an organizational level. Building mechanisms to reward collaboration instead of focusing ONLY on success at the lowest denomination
- Absence of a Career framework around Agile: Given the fact that the Agile philosophy talks about lack of hierarchies, absence of reporting and places more value on technical expertise, it becomes important to design a framework that still aligns to the career development and growth aspiration of people
- Performance management: The Agile is a philosophy based on collective responsibility as compared to individual excellence. While individual excellence is important, it is more important for teams to collaborate and succeed. If an organization does not address this part by changing or tweaking their performance management system, it becomes easy for high performers to stay away from the adoption of this philosophy due to perceived lack of appreciation (for their performance)
Simply put, whether at a project level or at an organization level, the success or failure of Agile will depend on how the project or the organization is willing to understand the philosophy and adopt it in letter and spirit.
Share your views on why else do you think Agile projects fail at an enterprise level.