Answers To An Agile FAQ: People Over Process
What Our Clients Tell Us All The Time . . .
“Our organization has gone to great lengths to become Agile, and we are well on our journey, but there is friction between our org and those within the company who have not yet transitioned to Agile practices.”
Agile teams feel bogged down and relevant stakeholders are often left out of the loop, leading quickly to frustration and communication breakdown. Part of our ongoing research on bringing Agile across the enterprise means identifying best practices for communicating effectively with non-Agile colleagues and properly handling change management.
Looking at Agile organizations that have evolved well, we see time and time again that leaders focus on organization first: people over process.
Injecting Agile Techniques To Help Communication: Get Everyone On The Same Page
Some parts of the organization may never be Agile. Some, by nature, will have to follow a sequential process, and that’s OK. Agile practices can still be utilized to bridge the gap and alleviate issues around communication, however, identifying roles and delivering desired outcomes. Looking at Agile organizations that have evolved well, we see time and time again that leaders focus on organization first: people over process. Cut through the fog by:
- Identifying key stakeholders early in the process. This is one of the most frequently forgotten practices that can make or break delivery practices. Once identified, tailor the cadence of communications to these stakeholder needs; listen first and don’t force them into an uncomfortable rhythm. An insurance company we spoke with balances both customer journeys and employee experiences to deliver greater product value.
- Refreshing your training. Relevant non-Agile SMEs and stakeholders benefit from Agile coaching. Agile project leads and POs can also benefit from sessions on how to best communicate with relevant SMEs throughout the enterprise. A healthcare provider we recently spoke with struggled to get commitment from its legal department to collaborate within the constraints of a sprint. Agile coaching informed nontechnical SMEs of what’s needed to work effectively with Agile teams.
- Using collaborative work management (CWM) tools to build trust. If you provide people comfortable tools, you will see an uptick not only in the amount of data contributed but also in the quality of that data. Employees shouldn’t feel like they are working for the app; instead, Agile leaders should use these tools to build a positive ecosystem that people want to be a part of.[i]
- Giving Agile practices such as big room planning a shot. Big room planning sessions can be a great method of bringing all relevant stakeholders into the fold from the very start, as long as you manage the meeting carefully to maximize productivity. At T=0, you are bringing everyone involved (and everyone potentially involved) in to begin describing epics and proposed features.
For more information and best practices on expanding Agile throughout your company, see the following reports:
- Strategic Portfolio Management Is Agile
- Digital Business Requires Agile Financial Planning
- Embrace Decentralized Decision Making, But Keep Planning Holistic
Forrester clients can also book an inquiry with me to discuss further.
(This blog was written in collaboration with Andrew Dobak and Erin Sellers.)
[i] See the Forrester report, “The Forrester Wave™: Collaborative Work Management Tools For The Enterprise, Q4 2018.”