Agile beyond Software Development

05 Jun 2015
Submitted by croga
Agile World Domination

And then I ran into this article:
Dave Thomas argues that "Agile software development" is little more than "drop most processes, think about the impact of what you do NOW on what you're going to do NEXT". And isn't that exactly what needs to be done in the rest of the company as well? Wouldn't all work be done more efficiently if we projected the Agile Manifesto on it?

A couple of months ago, one of our customers, a company that creates and publishes teaching/learning materials for primary schools, asked us our opinion on Agile. In general this wouldn't be a strange question; we're an IT outsourcing company so we know a lot about Agile software development. The crux in this case is: This company has no IT personnel. All of their IT is oursourced, from office automation to app development to even their entire ERP system.
Their trigger was that their IT suppliers are using Scrum and they're noticing that that requires a different approach to requirements, requirements management and steering.

So I spent a month coaching their project managers in how to make sure they can supply their software requirements in the right format, size and time. I used some of my time to talk to other people in the company, explaining Agile isn't sec a software development method and asking how they see Agile and the road to the working product. In the end, the conclusion was that using Agile only as a thoughtpattern for IT is too narrow a view and if Agile is used only for IT, the rest of the company will quickly become an impediment.

I set up a presentation to the Publish Manager (what we'd probably call a Business Unit Manager) explaining what I think Agile can do for this company. In that presentation I also gave a general outline of what path to take, starting with Scrum Product Ownership (since that's needed *now*), through a set of preparatory changes (set up everything necessary to support self organising teams), onto the final goal of true Enterprise Product Ownership (not the "enterprise" in most scaled frameworks, where "enterprise" just means "lotsa software teams"). All of it supported by an overall change in mindset and culture (maybe the most important part of it all).

And so it is starting. At this moment the pilot project is being set up. It'll be a learning/teaching method in a field this company hasn't marketed before. The first impediment has already been defined; it's impossible to set up a Product Team since everyone is working lots of projects at once. I'm pretty sure we'll run into lots more of these before it'll all be done. But the first goal is achieved as well: We're making the impediments visible, talking about them, getting them out in the open. Which is always the first step to getting them resolved.

I've talked about Scrum World Domination before. But that goal has become too limited. I don't want to change all Software Development to Scrum anymore, I'm going for Agile World Domination! All Product Development should be done Agile!