A Disciplined Agile Approach to Business Agility


A Disciplined Agile Approach to Business Agility

Mark Lines and I edited a special issue of the Cutter Business Journal in 2018 entitled A Disciplined Agile Approach to Business Agility which can be downloaded free of charge.  It contains several articles.

Itamae, the Agile Organization, and You by John Hogan

Hogan shares some insights on delighting customers. He argues for a customer-focused organizational structure, with Agile teams supported by Agile leadership. Hogan describes the importance of goal setting to focus on delighting customers, supported by incremental planning and delivery to do so. He works through the implications for:

  1. People who face the customer. These people need to understand what customers need and then fulfill that need.
  2. People who face each other. They need to identify their internal customers, collaborate with them, and bring business value to them at the lowest possible cost.
  3. People who face suppliers. These people are effectively customers to that supplier and must collaborate with them as transparently as possible and should expect to be delighted.
  4. People who are managers and leaders. They must be customer-focused and empower your teams.

The Agile Enterprise and the Division of Labor by Gene Callahan

Gene Callahan has some great advice for building awesome people. Beginning with the idea of the division of labor, Callahan walks us through the history of how traditional organizations find themselves as a collection of specialists who struggle to be responsive to the changing marketplace. He then examines the need for people who are generalizing specialists (people who can collaborate effectively and learn from one another).

The Necessities for Successful Enterprise Agile Transformation by Matthew Ganis and Michael Ackerbauer

This article describes how to build awesome teams. You want to be Agile (of course!) and adopt Agile practices. Awesome teams have the skills and resources to fulfill their mission and include the right mix of personalities. The authors argue that the organization is really a “team of teams” that needs a shared purpose and way of working to make the abstract concrete. According to them, awesome teams build on a common foundation based on the concept of Breakthrough Thinking/diversity of thought.

Business Agility: A Roadmap for the Digital Enterprise by Jaco Viljoen

In his discussion of the five levels of a digital business ecosystem (DBE), Jaco Viljoen explores the idea that“choice is good because context counts.” The five levels, each with its own set of capabilities that build one on top of another, are: waterfall/traditional, hybrid Agile (a combination of waterfall and Agile), regular delivery, continuous delivery, and continuous exploration. The five DBEs provide insight into which process-building blocks to apply. Viljoen also discusses using a frame- work to achieve business agility at scale.

Case Study: Linking Business Workflows and Agile User Stories in an SOA Environment by Gill Kent and Robin Harwood

Gill and Robin provide a case study about linking Business Process Model and Notation (BPMN) workflows and user stories. They focus on the importance of initial modeling during what they call the Discovery phase of a digital trans-formation project. In their example, they followed a pragmatic, Agile approach to modeling the business and their host systems to gain important insight into the enterprise transformation scope and a vision of the required system change for their endeavor. This enabled them to establish a business/stakeholder vision that captured a clear scope for the following phases. With an initial technical strategy/architecture identified, the team was able to name a backlog of architecturally relevant stories, mitigating the risk of late identification of system integration requirements and the potential for significant rework. In short, a pragmatic investment in initial modeling and planning paid off in huge divi-dends for their Agile team.

The Wizard of OSS: Follow the Open Space and Sociocracy Road to Enterprise Agile Transformation by Jutta Eckstein and John Buck

The principle of enterprise awareness appears in several of the articles, and Jutta Eckstein and John Buck walk us through an enterprise-aware approach that helps optimize the process flow of value streams. The authors show how to apply “Open Space” and “Sociocracy” to support enterprise Agile transformation. Open Space is a technique where everyone is invited to put forward ideas that they’re passionate about; if there is enough interest in the idea people will get behind it and make it happen. Sociocracy is a form of democracy for use in organizations, building feedback mechanisms into the organizational structure itself that ensure every voice is heard. Both strategies promote enterprise awareness, increasing collaboration between people in what would normally be disparate parts of the organization and helping optimize flow as the situation evolves.

Core Thinking Patterns for Lean/Agile Organizations by Srinivas Garapati

This article explores important philosophies and the mindset behind Agile and Lean. He starts with the thinking patterns required to be successful and then considers the nature of an Agile organization and finishes with strategies for organizational design.

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One comment on “A Disciplined Agile Approach to Business Agility

Nice info. You have explained very clearly about agility in the organizations. One of the most used frameworks in today’s market is SAFe. Well, Scaled Agile Framework or SAFe helps the organization in scaling by producing higher quality products at a faster rate and increase of employee engagement.

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