Agile at scale: An organizational game changer
Are you using technologies in limited areas that offer significant benefits to your business?
Recently, I was talking with a customer who shared with me that the impact of moving from siloed agile teams to a scaled agile approach was a game changer at their organization. Game changers are really interesting. Sometimes they’re crazy, out-of-the-box ideas that come while you’re on a treadmill or maybe doing yoga. Other times, they’re just a sudden realization of something that’s been lurking right under your nose. Sometimes they’re both.
Amazon Web Services (AWS) is a good example. AWS was originally an internal project for a team of Amazon.com engineers based in South Africa. The initial goal was to decentralize the Amazon infrastructure and provide services for development teams. By 2005, Amazon had built a large-scale, reliable and efficient IT infrastructure for the world’s largest online retail platform.
At some point, Amazon realized that other organizations could benefit from its investment. Amazon expanded its infrastructure and made it available to the world. AWS was born. Today, it’s the foundation for Amazon’s cloud services, and it’s been a game changer. Not only for Amazon–AWS is its fastest-growing business—but also a for the thousands of companies using it today.
In short, Amazon took something that was working for them in a relatively limited capacity, and extended it with the hope that doing so would extend the same value to a wider audience.
Think about that. Are you using technologies in limited areas within your organization that offer significant benefits to your business? And could expanding those technologies across your organization potentially expand the benefits as well? If you’re thinking about agile, you’re headed in the right direction.
Now, I’ll be the first to admit, AWS isn’t a perfect analogy. You’re not going to offer your scaled agile framework to the world and become the next Amazon. But you could scale agile across your own business to bring its value to your entire organization.
If your company’s products require software development, you exist within a fast-paced, rapidly changing marketplace. You need to deliver high-quality projects fast. You’ve probably already introduced some agile into your development teams and experienced competitive advantages like enhanced collaboration, improved quality, faster delivery of value, reduced cost of development and elevated customer satisfaction rates.
Scaled Agile across your entire portfolio would mean extending these same competitive advantages and much more: It would provide focus and insight into your organization’s highest-value initiatives to ensure that products work well together and each provides a return on your investment. You could identify gaps and highlight new requirements at the portfolio level minimizing ad-hoc projects that could conflict with one other or duplicate efforts. And scaling agile across multiple projects would enhance customer value.
If scaling agile across multiple teams and projects makes sense, does it also make sense to go beyond your IT and Dev departments? After all, agile isn’t limited to software product development. Agile methodologies can be applied to many finance and marketing department projects as well.
Let’s take marketing as an example. Marketers today operate in a fast-paced, multichannel world. They no longer have the ability to spend months designing and implementing large projects. They require speed and flexibility to innovate and respond immediately to market disruptions. Does that sound familiar? Does it sound like Dev teams?
And just like Dev teams are under significant pressure to build quality products fast, today’s CMOs are increasingly under pressure for rapid business growth. With the pace of across-the-board change they’re facing, an agile transformation could be the key for CMOs looking to outperform in their markets.
The bottom line: There are many departments for which the use case for agile is as strong as that of IT and Dev. Scaling agile across them will have the impact of reducing organizational roadblocks while delivering modern ways of working, thinking and delivering value to customers. All for the ultimate goal of Business Agility.
Game changers can be wildly advantageous. They often come with the potential to deliver huge competitive advantages to your organization. But they don’t come around often. So when they do, make sure you leverage them to the greatest degree possible.