Agile Development — Just A Starting Point Towards Organizational Agility
For many people Agile is “Agile Development”. They use agile to improve the effectiveness and agility of software organizations. For these people scaling agile typically means developing even larger programs/products with an agile development approach.
Scaling Sideways Towards Business Agility
Scaling agile has another meaning — scaling sideways and handling a wider swath of the technology value stream:
- First, the process of exploring options and selecting initiatives to focus on and to budget.
- Then, identifying the right products or features. You follow up the development/build phases with delivery and deployment activities.
- Finally after delivering working software to real users you can measure, learn and tweak/adjust/pivot.
As you can see, Becoming an agile organization means looking wider not just deeper.
Companies are using techniques such as Design Thinking, Lean Startup, Lean UX, DevOps, Continuous Deployment at various stages of the technology value stream. The challenge is that the lines defining where each approach starts and ends are blurred. There’s also considerable overlap that is confusing those trying to build their “business agility stack”.
For example — is Lean Startup just for the Explore/Identify phase or throughout the life cycle? I think the latter since we talk about a full Build Measure Learn cycle . Is it used in all cases? Probably not — it’s really a function of how much business/requirements/WHAT uncertainty you have. If you’re clear on WHAT to build, you don’t need lean startup and MVPs. You can suffice with Agile.
Similarly for Lean UX — is it a front-end kind of practice? I prefer to look at it as front-heavy but iterative which relies on closing the feedback loop based on experience of real users in the field.
Agile Beyond Software — Enter Agile Marketing
While the technology organization struggles to figure all this out, other areas of the organization are starting their own agile journey — leading to an even wider perspective on what it means to achieve agility at scale. A good example is Marketing. As Marketing organizations face more and more uncertainty and complexity they’re realizing that an approach similar to the one their technology counterparts are using can help them as well. Agile Marketing is the approach being used by more and more marketers to improve marketing agility. Agile Marketing is our fastest growing practice these days, especially in our Boston/US office.
To Infinity and Beyond — Achieving Organizational Agility
What lies beyond for the organization that achieved agility in its key business value streams? agility across those value streams. Think of the organization undergoing a digital transformation that is trying to compete based on a great experience all the way from the awareness stage through consideration, selection, purchase, all the way to using/consuming the service. Great experiences require identifying the right marketing tactics and the right product and more and more these days the lines are blurring between the two. More and more marketers see themselves as stewards of the whole customer experience (CX) not just the buyers journey.
I’m willing to make a prediction — I think we will see more and more MarDevOpsSales teams/tribes in the not so far future — I look forward to those “Big Room Planning” events combining developers, marketers, sales, customer support/success people — all trying to figure out how to work together 🙂