Leadership in a non-Agile organization try to optimize work by using experts in each area, creating detailed specs and estimates, and readily replacing individuals if needed. The reality is that this only works well within 3 constraints:
- Scope is knowable in advance
- Work is estimable with precision
- People are fungible
Knowing exactly what product you are going to build and exactly how long it is going to take is often taken for granted in projects where this is hard to know. In the end, departments and project managers end up scrambling to avoid loosing quality, missing a deadline, or going over budget. For instance, they might replace a team member and have little consideration for the time it will take them to get up to speed on the project and develop a good working relationship with the rest of the team.
Does your project meet these 3 constraints? Are you sure about that? Consider how often estimates are not accurate, how often you deploy a feature that the customer never uses, how often the specs change…. The reality is that being able to respond quickly to changes in the market or customer needs is a competitive advantage. Leaders need to shift their beliefs and accept the reality that holding onto these 3 constraints is limiting the capacity of your teams.
Greski and Bradley point out: “The goal isn’t Agile; the goal is an organization that responds at market speed. Agile is just one method to get there.”
They also encourage leaders to: “…maximize the amount of work not done to deliver value quickly, ensure stories align to strategic priorities and demonstrate progress frequently…”
More great thoughts from Greski and Bradley in their article on the Leading Agile blog: Setting your Transformational Frames: The CEO’s Role in Identifying and Implementing Change for a New Future