Things are getting interesting.
Your organisation has been transforming itself to an agile way of working for, say, a year or so now. Now comes the critical moment, which I will hereafter refer to as ‘The Wobble.’
‘The Wobble’ is a series of questions and searching of souls. ’Is this transformation really working?’ and ‘Are we working on the right features, at the right pace, with the right value, at the right level of quality?’ are common. Now, here’s the trick and it sound a little woolly but bear with me, if your business sponsors don’t know that its working, then I’m afraid that this confusion is trying to tell you something. That something generally is that something is wrong.
Like most of life’s wobbles, ‘The Wobble’ itself not the key, the reaction to ‘The Wobble’ is critical. So what are common reactions?
Abandon Ship! Liberally distribute yourselves overboard and revert to chaos. By which I mean your previous methodology, which wasn’t even waterfall, just old fashioned chaos.
Measure everything! Try and enforce blanket metrics across teams which mean little to the business and try and ‘standardise’ progress across teams. Think back to why you wanted to transform your organisation. The prison of meaningless metrics probably had something to do with it.
More Resource! Forget you ever read the Mythical Man Month and fully embrace the law of diminishing returns in all its glory.
So, I hear your brains ask, smarty-pants, what would you do?
Don’t panic and add more process – making your teams ‘heavier’ only alienates them, and the business representatives just see more processes and less building of stuff they want. This cycle repeats itself until the team’s produce beautiful reports and documents but no working software. Sound familiar?
Cash Value. In Moolah, Dosh, Wonga, Sterling. In Production - Its time to get honest. It doesn't get more honest than cash. Its honesty tells you where you really are, in your transformation. A lot of features built but still takes two months to put a release together? £0. Building lots of technically interesting features but not what the business wants? £0. I am aware however; very few organisations are willing to be this honest. However, without acknowledging this, you limit your progress and strengthen the power of ‘The Wobble.’
Putting a monetary value on something that is yet to be is hard, but it forces you to ask a great question. If I don’t know what this is worth, then why am I building it. For me the key to agility is honesty, with your team, with your wider project community, with the business. Without it, ‘The Wobble’ becomes more earthquake than minor tremor and may be more than your agile transformation can withstand.