Focus on Business Outcomes for an impactful, sustainable Agile Transformation
Agile has always been considered an "IT thing”.
That’s not surprising, since it is the “Manifesto for Agile Software Development” after all. Because of this, the vast majority of transformations and the drivers of those efforts have been heavily driven from IT.
However, from the beginning, one could argue the intent of Agile was to achieve better business outcomes, through collaboration and adaptability, among other things.
So, it’s no surprise that it has taken the better part of 2 decades to cross over and start becoming a business imperative.
There is a lot of buzz in the market for “business agility”. This is NOT about that. This is about making it clear, from the start, that the only reason to take on an agile transformation, or to continue to invest in one, is to achieve some tangible business outcome. It doesn’t matter what new marketing spin we try to put on it.
If you’re not making Agile an imperative for the business, it will continue to be an “IT thing” and yield marginal benefits for the business.
Outline/Structure of the Workshop
Connection (C1) – Table Talk: Share experiences and perspectives to get everyone thinking about examples and possibilities
Concept (C2) - Get everyone grounded on the concepts of: 1) Business Outcomes and 2) Agile Outcomes
1. Introduce common Business Outcomes, Discuss the impacts of having them defined versus not having them
2. Discuss common Agile Outcomes and how they relate to Business Outcomes.
Discussion on why and how Agile should be treated as a Business Imperative, rather than just an "IT thing", and how to shift focus on achieving specific Business Outcomes rather than traditional IT/software centric outcomes. Will also share how to map Business Outcomes to traditional Agile Outcomes, so everyone understands the systemic relationships between them.
Concrete Practice (C3) Core Exercise –
Provide handouts for individuals to take away. Exercises best preformed on a flip chart, so all table participants can effectively interact and contribute. Ask them to create a flipchart resembling the handout and slide I’ll ne showing.
1. Business Outcomes exercise - Ask each person to think about a current or recent project, product or problem they worked on then discuss the characteristics with their table mates – Was it IT-centric or more Business-centric? How are the Outcomes / Expectations articulated and shared across the organization?
2. Explore a set of Business Outcome cards and discuss their relevance to your initiative. Were any of these included? Explicitly or Implicitly? Did it make an impact?
3. Review set of common Agile Outcomes. Which of these were defined for your initiative? How were/are your business stakeholders engaged with these?
4. Map the Agile Outcomes to the Business Outcomes to see if there are any patterns that would emerge and if these would influence how we defined and prioritized efforts.
The point of the exercise is to have them consider the impact of focusing on Business Outcomes rather than typical Agile/IT oriented outcomes.
Close/Conclusion (C4) – Wrap-up the exercise with table “Shout-Out”. Ask each table to pick 1 example and share it with the group.
Encourage everyone to ID 1 key take-away that they think they can use immediately with their teams, stakeholders and leaders back at their organizations that would help answer the question, "Why are we doing this?” and “Are we focusing on the right Outcomes?"
General Q & A
This workshop will provide participants with guidance for how to:
- Engage both business and IT stakeholders and get everyone aligned on a common outcome, or set of outcomes.
- Explore and align common agile outcomes in support of key business outcomes, rather than making “become more agile” the objective.
- Visualize the relationship between common agile practices in order to optimize our energy and investments for better outcomes.
- Identify potential KPIs that would be measurable and impactful for business stakeholders.
Anyone involved in or considering an Agile Transition
Prerequisites for Attendees
Some experience with an Agile Transformation helpful, but not required.