Agile Organization

Is Agile Creating Pockets of Efficient Darkness?

We are long past the attitude of thinking that agile does not work; we know it does work. But like anything that works, it is not perfect. Agile particularly can offer challenges of visibility. In an article for CIO magazine, Andrew Lientz describes this issue and what can be done to push past it while maintaining agility.

Trust in the Dark

Waterfall offers a lot of documentation and generally a lot of things that are straightforward to report. Agile is not as straightforward, and frankly, it does not aim to be; more reporting means less time spent actually working. But that means that agile, when taken as just one component in the business, can become rather opaque in how it operates.

This issue is multiplied by the fact that agile is starting to appear in HR, marketing, and various other places beyond IT. The business cannot afford to have too many pockets of what I would call “efficient darkness” in its operations. Executive and other leaders still need to be able to track dependencies and whether progress is being made toward strategic goals.

Lientz’s solution is to rework agile so that it scales in a more practical way, namely, by adding bits of waterfall back into it. In this case, Lientz says it is not a case of portfolio management but of portfolio visibility:

Essentially, business leaders want portfolio visibility. They want to know if the work that teams are doing fits in the business strategy, and is it in line where the business is headed. Agile makes it impossible to see this, meaning execs are stuck thinking, “We’re steering the ship, but how do we know the rest of the ship is coming along with us?”

Companies with a culture of distributed ownership through agile need a way to unify around portfolio visibility. Portfolio visibility helps share all the innovation across the company without making people move away from agile frameworks. This way the entire ship can move quickly in one direction. … [To do this, top] priorities from the business should be communicating epics in teams’ and departments’ agile workflows to broadly communicate everything the company is doing.

You can view the original article here:

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