This is the second blog of our agile series by Iwona Winiarska, for part one click here.
Many organisations need to keep up with the changing environment: shifting business priorities, changing technology solutions or more demanding user needs. As a result, they need to change their old ways of working to become more nimble, adaptive and competitive on the market. However, this requires a whole organisation to adapt including all departments and teams, for example: HR, Finance, Marketing, PMO, Procurement etc.
Although the Agile Manifesto and 12 Agile Principles were created 18 years ago mainly for software development, it doesn’t mean it is only for the IT department or digital and technology team. The values and principles also talk about a culture change, building trust, motivation and collaboration and this can be achieved by taking a holistic approach and aligning the whole organisation and all teams working together around common values.
One of the challenges is for example lack of collaboration across an organisation and siloed teams which don’t want to share information, collaborate or support when needed. Sometimes, the situation may look very poor and it can create a blame culture.
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Therefore, the focus cannot solely be within a team working in one department, but on the whole organisation. Creating multidisciplinary teams across an organisation can significantly improve collaboration as a new team would consist of different skills and disciplines and it would involve such roles as a Product Owner, Scrum Master or Agile Delivery Manager, Designers, Developer, QA Testers etc. It’s also important to remember, a team set up depends on the product or solution we deliver but UX Designers or User Researchers are incredibly important. Ultimately, our goal is to meet user needs, therefore having a User Researcher in a multidisciplinary team is essential.
Another example of improving organisational silos is creating an agile environment where business stakeholders can collaborate with developers or engineers more often. A great platform for increasing collaboration is Show & Tell where a multidisciplinary team presents the work they’ve done during the last iteration and other stakeholders and teams can participate in it and contribute to the work by giving feedback, especially where the workstreams of these teams are overlapping or where dependencies are high. So overall, Show & Tell helps build collaborative working relationships and communicate feedback and project progress.
There are many benefits that any business can leverage from adopting agile ways of working. My advice would be to start with the core agile values and principles rather than implementing new tools and processes. In other words, start visualising work items to see how the value flows, start engaging with other teams and departments in your organisation, invite them to your agile ceremonies, start talking about Why? – why we do what we do and explaining the benefits of doing something to get everyone’s buy into a new way of working. And more importantly, if you are a Scrum Master or Agile Delivery Manager organise opportunities where your team can get to know each other better. Team lunch or after work office game can do miracles!
Nowadays, I see many agile practitioners talking about different Agile Methodologies and prescriptively adhering to them but I like referring back to the 4 core agile values on how to deliver value to users that are:
individuals and interactions over processes and tools;
working software over comprehensive documentation;
customer collaboration over contract negotiation; and
responding to change over following a plan
Taken from ‘The Agile Manifesto’
For example at Automation Logic, we’re working on a business project involving 4 different teams e.g. R&D, Marketing, Delivery, and Product. We’ve realised the importance of cross-team collaboration and improved visualising work in a better way in order to identify potential issues, problems or bottlenecks and make delivery more effective through direct communication. For each of the tasks from each discipline, we assigned an owner which significantly helped with gathering requirements and prioritising work items depending on what is urgent vs important.
Agile ways of working help build products and services in an iterative and incremental way and get value to the users quicker. At Automation Logic, we thrive to work in an agile way and share best practices with our clients. Understanding the organisational challenges ourselves help us guide our clients through that journey in a Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity (VUCA) world.