Taking Your First Steps On The Agile Journey

Starting something new usually takes longer than you think. Becoming Agile in your organisation is a case in point.

Agile Project Management (PM) is still a new thing.

In February 2001, 17 leading figures in the software signed a “Manifesto for Agile Software Development.” By laying out the key principles of Agile, the Manifesto helped launch a movement that has no signs of slowing down. Since 2001, the software industry in particular has adopted Agile. Even so, it appears that only some parts of Agile have been adopted within the software community.

In 2009, 35% of software organisations surveyed had implemented some form of Agile PM. Yet, only a small percentage of these companies had implemented it in its entirety.

By 2012, things were looking up for Agile. A 2012 study by Actuation Consulting indicated that 71% of those surveyed were using Agile. Again, only 13% reported that they are using “pure” Agile. This is to suggest that not all of Agile’s principles had been adopted by these IT organisations.

Companies in the study were also clinging onto other Project Management methods alongside Agile. These and other studies suggest that even in the world of software development, Agile still has a long way to go.

Why is Agile PM so hard to establish?

Agile PM Requires A Culture Change

When organisations implement Agile PM they are also attempting culture change. This is often overlooked.

Changing a company culture is not easy. It is, of course, difficult to achieve.

Yet, adopting Agile is not about learning a new set of jargon or procedures. Agile is about adopting a new set of values and attitudes.

Agile PM is about how people see themselves and their role within the company. It is also how the company values its people.

Learning a new skill change is easier than learning a new procedure. Learning a new procedure is easier than changing a belief. And changing a belief is easier than changing an attitude.

Compare implementing Agile to being a visitor to a strange land

Imagine you arrive in a new country. A country with very different customs to your own.

At first, you are completely lost. You don’t understand the language, the people and the culture. Everything feels odd.

After a while, you start to pick up the language Although your speech will be slow and hesitant. You will look and sound strange to the natives.

Imagine you live in the country for 10 years.

You are now a fluent speaker. You have adopted many of the local customs and behaviours. Does this make you a native? Not completely. But you have started to think and act like a native.

You understand – at a much deeper level – the cultural norms and patterns of behaviour. It may take you a lifetime to become completely familiar with your new home. But 10 years on, you have made a dramatic transition.

Does this mean that adopting Agile into your organisation will also take 10 years?

No.

Not at all.

Still culture change does takes time. Lots of it.

Start As You Mean To Go On

Many who adopt Agile PM think it can implemented at the procedural level. “Bring in Kanban Boards or Daily Stand-ups and we will be Agile!”, they think. This is not how to do it.

If you are considering applying Agile PM you must also consider your wider work culture. If you don’t start working on your old culture it will, itself, block any benefits that Agile PM can bring.

This is why organisations that adopt Agile must see themselves on a journey. Adopting Agile itself must be seen as a never-ending journey. There is no ‘destination’.

Applying Agile means that the organisation will be on a continual quest for improvement. The organisation, departments, teams and individuals will never have ‘finished’ implementing Agile. There will always be room for innovation and improvement.

How To Start Your Journey

To help you take the first steps on your Agile journey, we’ve put together a new training course. The course will show you the full potential of Agile and how it could transform your work practices.

Culture change in Agile isn’t just for the software world. department but for the whole organization. It’s for those who are willing to take the first steps.

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