6 Pitfalls To Avoid When Implementing Agile
Change is not easy. Therefore, many leaders face the same obstacles during a transformation. To help you successfully meet the goals of your transformation, our Agile experts defined 6 pitfalls to avoid when implementing agile.
Pitfall #1: Lack Of Alignment
We can’t assume everyone understands or supports an Agile implementation. The transformation requires buy-in from the bottom, middle, and top of the organization, regardless of where the case for change originated.
Vision And Focus Around The Change Initiative
- Communicate the reasons for the implementing agile with your employees.
- Tie the change initiative to significant company goals. Everyone needs to understand and be motivated by the goal in order to persevere through the challenges soon to come.
Pitfall #2: Lack Of Leadership Action
Nothing worth fighting for is easy. There will be roadblocks and dependencies that your organization must overcome in order to be agile and how leadership responds to these roadblocks can make or break an Agile transformation. So it is imperative to have a system for handling issues and roadblocks as they are identified, like an Agile Leadership Team. In Kotter’s 8 Step Process For Leading Change, the first two steps are to “Create A Sense of Urgency” and “Build A Guiding Coalition”–creating a cross-functional Agile Leadership Team will address both steps.
Agile Leadership Team
- Communicate the priority of implementing agile with your organization by taking action and creating an Agile Leadership Team.
- The Agile Leadership Team should address issues as they arise with urgency and make the progress on those items visible.
Pitfall #3: Trying To Achieve Agility Through Traditional Ways Of Leadership
The smoothest, most rewarding Agile adoptions are in organizations with a safe-to-fail culture that prioritizes learning and values responsiveness. The more room given to learn, the happier employees are, and the more committed they will be to the organization’s goals.
A Good Leader:
- Gives employees the courage to take risks and try new ways of working by asking the right questions.
- Changes the way questions are asked which creates a friendlier, more modern, learning environment. “What are you learning?” and “How can I support you?” can go a long way in demonstrating the importance your organization places on learning and improvement.
Pitfall #4: No Mechanisms In Place For Creating Sustainable Impact
A key to implementing Agile is to create an environment that fosters everlasting change. Agile experts, either on staff full-time or outsourced, will help set realistic expectations and quicken the necessary resistance and chaos phase that comes with introducing change by providing best practices, tips, tools, and training.
Common Side-Effects Of Not Having An Agile Transformation Coach Include:
- Unnecessary steps and confusion in the organization.
- Never recovering from the initial chaos of the transition.
- Implementing Agile practices piecemeal while ignoring the philosophy behind the methodology.
- Implementing the “How” without understanding the “Why”, which leaves teams going through the motions without realizing the benefits.
- No growth of the organization’s internal capability to solve problems.
Pitfall #5: Working In Silos Instead Of Cross-Functional Teams
Cross-functional teams are the building blocks of the Agile framework and are composed of all individuals needed to deliver value. These teams work together to deliver customer value faster.
Benefits Of Cross-Functional Teams Include:
- Increased Learning: knowledge sharing via increased communication and collaboration.
- Dependencies Between Teams Are Limited: bottlenecks and blockers are identified and resolved quickly.
Pitfall #6: Weighing Down The Organization
It’s not uncommon for leaders to feel overloaded, overworked, and frustrated. Maybe you’re taking on too much for one individual. Maybe you’re lacking time to focus on your own responsibilities as opposed to putting out fires. No matter your struggles, it’s important to address them early on in order to avoid letting them trickle down throughout the organization.
Our Top Agile Solutions To Common Leadership Frustrations:
- Limit the amount of Work In Progress. Employees are obligated to get things done and immediately raise issues that are standing in their way of delivering value.
- Sequence work in the order that things must be done to deliver value to the customer. Employees will be able to pull in work instead of having the work pushed down to them, removing some of the burden from your shoulders and empowering them to take ownership of their work.
- Focus on achieving an outcome instead of a specific output so cross-functional teams are able to deliver what the customer needs.