John Herson

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Pivoting at Speed to Scaled Agile and DevOps – Chapter 3b

Deeper In the Engine Room

Fundamentally changing how people work isn’t easy. When you’re midstream on a large strategic integration initiative, it’s even more difficult. (See here to get up to speed on how far we’ve come). Due to these challenges, there are a couple of things we kept in mind as we progressed as well as learning a few additional things. So we wanted to dive a bit deeper in the engine room and share with you two of the biggest lessons: how to operate with globally distributed teams (I’ll follow the sun) and keeping in mind what really matters (the Importance of being Earnest).

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Pivoting at Speed to Scaled Agile and DevOps – Chapter 3

Chapter 3 – In the Engine Room

The old idiom “the devil’s in the details” couldn’t apply more to our initiative. We have six global development teams that were executing in waterfall that we’ve essentially restructured and told them to do agile. To catch up on how we got here see Chapter 1 and Chapter 2.

Sound like a recipe for disaster? It could very well be, but seeing that we’re at a position where we can only improve, the gamble may just pay off.

Coal Power before Steam

Remember the Integrated Delivery Teams from last time? We now have six IDTs each having their own set of outcomes to achieve. The outcomes are the discrete business capabilities from end-to-end potentially spanning multiple systems. This alone is a huge benefit in that we’ve removed the artificial barriers to cross-team communication and, at the same time, given a group of people a common mission that if they meet, will demonstrate complete business capability and value. But how do we actually get to a state where we can execute?

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Pivoting at Speed to Scaled Agile and DevOps – Chapter 2

Chapter 2 – Turning on a Dime

Being able to respond quickly to a changing environment is what businesses aspire to but also something that is ingrained in our humanity. Having a large program that needs to adjust course in order to avoid disaster is easier said than done. Last time we fixed the radar and realized that without changing course, we were likely headed for just that disaster.

Of course, knowing you need to do something and actually doing it, however, are two very different things. For this, we used an agile approach and moved forward one step at a time. In our case, we developed a “get healthy” plan to make the necessary changes. We broke the plan down into 30, 60, 90 day incremental changes to show improvements over time, validate and then adjust as needed.

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Pivoting at Speed to Scaled Agile and DevOps

Chapter 1

Typically, the two biggest impediments to scaled agile and DevOps are over planning (including over thinking) and dogmatism. Which projects should we “pilot” for scaled agile, how long should the pilot run, what are the details of how we will implement, etc., etc. Of course, this over-thinking ultimately impedes the type of progress that scaled agile hopes to achieve in driving business results.

iolco51_Radar_screenBut what if you don’t over think and intentionally decide to be agile about being agile? How much faster can you move? What if I don’t have all of my rituals figured out to the nth degree and risk forgetting something crucial? Is it too risky?

Over the next several posts, we’ll share with you our experiences in taking a large strategic initiative from a waterfall approach to scaled agile in just a few weeks. The initiative scope was a targeted nine-month system and process integration effort to drive business transparency and, ultimately, business value. Impacted were: five business systems; six independent global development teams; and numerous business stakeholders that spanned the globe.

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