By Mariya Breyter
Which Agile transformation framework to pick and what is the right metrics to use?
In times of disruption, times of change, like the one we are going through now, there is a lot of questions: what does it mean to each of us? what does it mean to the world? how do we cope? navigate? leave it better that we went into it? What is the new state and what did we learn?
As we go through the multiple questions, there is a lesson that my consulting experience taught me. There is one answer that is never wrong: it depends.
As an agile practitioner, conference speaker, and organizational change coach, I get a lot of questions from my network: how do we execute an Agile transformation at an enterprise level? Which framework to pick? What should we measure? How should we report progress?
For nine enterprise Agile transformations I went through, there is no single answer. There is a pattern though that unites those that have been successful. It is not any specific framework, we used multiple and invented one on our own.
There are multiple articles and comparisons of Scrum at Scale, Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe), Large Scale Scrum (Less), Disciplined Agile Delivery (DAD), even Spotify org structure is sometimes considered an Agile scaling model.
Once the core framework or a custom approach is defined, the next question comes up: is there a single set of metrics to use? There is a lot of evidence that actionable metrics is important while vanity metrics is misinforming. No one would argue nowadays in favor of vanity metrics, such as productivity data. The concept of outcomes vs. outputs is no longer a point of discussion. However, what type of metrics is considered actionable, and why? Quality metrics or predictability metrics? Feature performance or user feedback? Leading or lagging indicators? Execution metrics or market data? Web analytics or sales reports?
At each level, from the enterprise level to its value stream/portfolios, and all the way to individual teams, each organization makes its own choices what to measure: employee engagement, customer satisfaction, continuous improvement, time-to-market, quality, progress against OKRs, any other delivery metrics?
My answer to each of these questions remains the same: it depends. If the organizational goal is to improve the quality of their product, they measure quality, if business performance is the key, they measure RoI, if customer satisfaction is their top concern, they measure customer happiness or Net Promoter Score. Measuring everything means measuring nothing. The approach is to set measurable goals (OKRs) and measure key results based on relevant data points – and once the key results are met, the next step is to move to the next high-performance improvement, the next high priority objective with its own key results, or to set up a new one.
The same approach applies to the framework selection: it depends on organizational culture, size, openness to change – it’s never “one size fits all”, and no transformation is exactly the same as another one. Then, the question is: are there any common ways of defining this “fit for purpose” in an organizational transformation? Of course, it depends. Some of the items to consider are organizational readiness for change, leadership support, clear organizational objectives, level of risk tolerance, level of commitment, and sponsorship of the effort. Success will be defined by commitment, leadership support, open mind, and clear objectives. The human factor of organizational transformation is the most important one: is the organization committed to change? is there psychological safety or people are afraid of losing their jobs as a result of this change? Are the objectives clear and inspirational? Are expectations realistic? Is there an explicit and measurable alignment on outcomes?
Agile transformation is like a meal: is there a perfect meal? It depends. Is it a meal for me or for you? For an adult or for a child? Morning meal or afternoon meal? Which season? It depends. My preference would be different from yours. My preference today would be different from five years ago or five years from now. And even that is not enough. How many times have you ordered a meal in a restaurant and did not like it? And maybe it was not a bad meal – it was just not what you are used to or not what you expected. It simply did not fit your need or did not meet your expectations.
Agile transformations are similar. There are general pre-requisites: clear objectives, psychological safety, leadership support, and others mentioned above. If these pre-requisites are in place, there is no doubt that the organization will be able to find the path to their transformation – through trial and error, continuous improvement, and ongoing feedback loop, no matter which Agile framework they put in place. At the end of the day, Agile transformation is not about processes, it’s all about people.
|© 2020 by Mariya Breyter|
All Rights Reserved
This article was originally published at https://baa.tco.ac/3Egc