# Monday, October 6, 2014


I’ve often asked the question, “Why are we doing an agile transformation?” to people in agile transformations, and it’s amazing how people usually focus on the tech teams. Don’t get me wrong, agile is a great thing for tech teams to do, but it’s not where the real benefit is. Lets turn to user stories. I like the format with the {why} at the front as the {why} is the reason we are doing the {what}. 

In order to {why}
as a {role}
I need a {what} 

So what I am really asking them is to fill in the dots:

In order to …
as a participant
I need to transform my technology team to agile methods.

Mostly I get answers about improving the way tech teams work, and I think this is missing the bigger picture. 

Agile isn’t for tech teams. Tech teams become agile to allow the businesses behind them to become agile. I think that is a profound and important thing. The majority of the benefit of having agile tech teams isn’t in the tech team (although there are undoubtedly many benefits there) but is in moving the whole business that it supports from the world of “how are we able to respond to change” to “how do we choose to respond to change”. 

If the tech teams are not agile, when change happens in the market, or a product is not received as expected, the business has to quickly ask what they are able to do to respond to the situation. "What options are in the land of the possible for the business now that we are in this new scenario?” 

If the tech teams are agile, the question isn’t about "what we are able to do", but rather, "what do we choose to do?" We can quickly change our focus from our current work to something else. We have cross functional feature teams all ready up and running, so we can choose to re-prioritise some new work with very little impact and very little lead time. 


That might sound minor, but in fact it is the biggest difference tech teams can make for their businesses. Imagine a meeting where a senior stakeholder comes along and tells the story of a business critical event in the market - like Apple and Google choosing to join the Mobile Phone market for example, and asking the tech teams what they are able to do about it.

Imagine standing there like a builder sucking air through your teeth when being asked if a wall can be moved in your house. "We have to finish the big projects we’re working on or 16 months of work will be wasted,” you hear yourself say, "and the codebase will be completely unstable as we haven’t done our testing phase. We should be able to start work on the new big thing next quarter, as long as things go well.” Ouch. 

Imagine instead saying, “Okay, no problem what would you like us to do? We can start work today on the big new thing, lets cancel x,y, and z and get the teams together for a workshop in half an hour." 

Yes our tech teams benefit from agile practices and principles, but the point of it all is really to enable our business to be agile. That is the real advantage we are buying with an agile transformation. 

In order to enable Real Business Agility
as a CEO
I need to transform my technology teams to being agile.

Tags: Agile | Kanban

Monday, October 6, 2014 3:01:30 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #