Scaled for the Enterprise – The Need for Organizational Change and Beyond

Posted by Justin Rowe on 2/8/17 12:01 PM

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Last week, I had the privilege of presenting our first webinar of 2017, “Scaling for the Future – Enabling Agile Across the Enterprise”, discussing enterprise agile frameworks to include the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe).  Jana Axline, President-elect from PMI Mile Hi, joined me during this webinar and provided her insights into the methodology, its basic principles and values as well as some detail into implementing at the enterprise-level. 

Our audience ranged from PMO leaders all over the country implementing enterprise agile to those who were just curious about the SAFe product altogether.  After the webinar, I had a deep conversation with one of the attendees about his organization going through the pains of growth where multiple teams are creating software-related products, but is having difficulty grasping where and if SAFe could fit within his organization. 

A point mentioned during this discussion included that an enterprise agile framework or any agile methodology altogether is not a “one-size-fits-all” situation.  We discussed during the webinar another enterprise agile framework, Large Scale Scrum or LeSS, takes this notion and expands upon it by defining its origins through the use of multiple features and capabilities of many frameworks combined into a scalable, Scrum-like structure that emphasizes scaling through minimizing extra processes and new methods to its existing workflow.  According to Gartner’s “Survey Analysis: How Agile in the Enterprise Stumbles, Evolves, Then Succeeds” report, “At least 45% of agile development organizations have considered, or have already implemented, an enterprise agile framework, but by no means are all development organizations agile.” 

Carrying on this conversation with my colleague, we discussed the complexity of enterprise agile frameworks and how adoption could be difficult at multiple levels.  In detail, the requirement for extensive leadership presence throughout implementing SAFe is one that cannot be ignored and must be improved upon over time.  During the webinar, we reviewed “Leading in Lean-Agile” identifying six leadership actions that must be taken through the introduction and execution of SAFe.  One of these actions, “Lead the Change”, enhanced our conversation about the role of management and leadership to build the right plan, communicate the “why” of the changes to be made as well as enable a culture of identifying and solving problems.  Sometimes, I find this is difficult for organizations to adopt as there is quite often a culture where problems linger and workarounds are accepted with the original problems remaining.  Leadership at the executive level that has a role at the portfolio level must communicate and reinforce the notion of leading the change each and every day, motivating and inspiring their teams along to way. 

This shift in culture in an organization also focuses on the notion of breaking old habits and moving away from the mentality of waterfall development.  As teams enabling agile strive to accept and anticipate continuous changing requirements, empowering these self-forming teams to make decisions in a decentralized manner will also drive the implementation of SAFe.  Developing our people’s knowledge and skills as well as planning and executing at multiple levels within program increments where they understand their role to identify impediments, problem solve, and improve the output of software developed will increase value to the customer as software is iteratively delivered.

Overall, as organizations look to implement and integrate enterprise agile frameworks, I would recommend that thorough planning and analysis take place on the existing culture and processes that are in place to see from a maturity perspective, what changes and enhancements have to be made.  From a team perspective, organizations must understand the current state of organizational change maturity and how users will accept change and can adopt changes made to processes and technologies utilized.  With any implementation, I would recommend phasing the rollout of an enterprise agile framework, easing in features that will support the organization’s needs and not moving through a ‘big bang’ implementation at one time.

At Lewis Fowler, we have enabled clients to perform a phased implementation of new technologies and processes to include analysis and optimization of the current state, recommendation of features and functions within a phased rollout, integrating identified stakeholders throughout the process to drive empowerment, and finally, propel with “out-of-the-box” capabilities for enterprise agile before defining new or customizing existing processes.  Through our Technology Enablement, Business Transformation and Operational Excellence capabilities, our team will propel your business strategy, goals and objectives to achieve the results and value that your customers expect.

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Topics: Agile, Process Improvement