Today many organizations aspire to take on Agile processes to take advantage of the copious benefits that they offer. Agile adoption comes with its problems, as well as undiscovered risks and threats to projects both large and small.
Those benefits include lucrative advantages, given that IT organizations are under pressure to reduce costs, improve quality, and deliver more quickly than ever. The challenge is how to scale and adopt the ever-growing ecosystem of Agile at the levels of enterprise project team, program and portfolio, and system hierarchy. It should not be an untamed "fra-Agile" animal. To build a system with Agile values and principles is a paradigm shift, and there is no direct model to adopt. Surely one thing is clear: It requires a holistic and pragmatic approach to address the organization's culture in process, projects, program, people, and tools.
Where is the problem?
The obstacle faced by consultants and organizations derives from the challenge of developing a framework that can provide organizations with comprehensive guidance and structured assistance for their Agile adoption journey, and a number of issues have to be addressed. Among the most important and challenging of these issues are how to:
The solution: A new model
Determine and develop a framework for building a structure in a complex and unpredictable process such as Agile adoption
Measure and assess agility independent of Agile methods, identifying a suitable measurement scale for agility, and determining the aspects of the development process that need to be assessed to conclude its agility
Accommodate project and organizational characteristics influencing Agile adoption efforts without overlooking project characteristics
Ensure that the framework or approach guides the adoption effort in an efficient and effective manner while attaining agility before committing to the time, effort, and money needed to introduce a practice
The Agile Adoption Model (AAM)
provides a method for adopting this framework. It is a structured and efficient approach to guiding Agile adoption efforts within projects, without overlooking the organizational aspects of the adoption process. The AAM tackles and embraces, with a four-"egg" paradigm, an approach of adoption in a systematic way through its unique design and structure.
The AAM uses the adoption framework as an approach to guide and assist organizations in the quest to adopt Agile practices. This model will deliver value with quality in an effective, evolutionary, and collaborative manner, reducing risk and unpredictability. As a result, it increases the profitability and adaptive nature of an organization.
Through identifying and assessing the existing ongoing processes in the organization and identifying which of the practices will continue, organizations can make a go/no-go decision regarding the move toward agility. By determining the target status for a project and then assessing the organization to determine the extent to which it is ready to achieve that paradigm of agility, the model manages to provide coaches with a realistic set of Agile practices for the project to adopt. The process assessment, definition, standardization, and sustainability with improvisation is done by using the AAM defined at different paradigm rigors. It provides an extensive outline of the areas within the organization that need improvement before the adoption effort starts.
The AAM's four paradigms help the 3 P's: process > project > program, to determine which, and to what extent, Agile practices can be introduced into the organization and thus be scaled to the level of self-managed organization. The four components are:
Symptomize - Practice Paradigm (Symptomize/Diagnosis/Treatment)
Evangelize - Project Paradigm (Technical/Functional)
Homogenize - Program Paradigm (Behavioral/Cultural)
Improvise - Organization Paradigm (Organizational agility)
The four paradigms introduce the structure into the Agile adoption process, leading to agility while traversing through the different P's because each stage has clearly defined inputs, outputs, and objectives. It provides a road map for an organization while helping provide structured and efficient guidance and assistance to adopting organizations, thus supporting an element of improvisation of Agile practices. Additionally, the four paradigms help organizations determine which practices to adopt while identifying organizational weaknesses that might affect their adoption. An organization needs to create a plan to strengthen the identified weaknesses, and plan for the adoption of the identified Agile practices. With these plans in place, an organization can adopt the practices and then confirm the success of the adoption.
The Agile paradigm
is considered to be the units of the measurement range as they detail the different possible degrees of agility for a project or organization. The Agile potential of a project or organization is expressed in terms of the highest Agile index it can achieve in the journey of paradigm shift. The attainment of a particular paradigm symbolizes that the project or organization has realized and embraced the essential elements needed to establish a particular degree of Agile effectiveness by realizing the scalability of Agile practices from project to organization.
Value of agility
This model has true business value, which refers to the added benefit realized by an organization after adopting Agile practices. For most organizations, the achievement of these business values is the real incentive behind adopting agility. Sanjiv Augustine and Amr Elssamadisy have suggested that the levels of agility might be prioritized according to the business values an organization hopes to realize. This suggestion is both valuable and beneficial to the growth of the model because, currently, the four paradigms of agility are not associated with any business values; instead they are based on the qualities and values of agility. The relationship between Agile and business values is parallel to that between the Agile Manifesto (focusing on Agile values) and the Declaration of Interdependence (capturing the business values).
Business values refer to the added benefit an organization realizes after adopting Agile practices. For most organizations, the achievement of these business values is the real incentive behind adopting agility. There lie some key benefits of the Agile Adoption Model (AAM):
Reduces risk and unpredictability -- analytical assessment done to decide "go or no-go" state
Helps deliver value with quality in an effective, evolutionary, and collaborative manner
Reduces time/cost -- adaptive nature through faster deployment and process automation
Benefits from the business context -- using Agile, Lean, Kanban, or DevOps approaches, addressing "low-hanging fruit"
Quantified value benefits such as integrating high-level defines-and-measures techniques into an up-front Agile discovery session, determining key process metrics where they do not exist, then drilling down to aligned project metrics, building measurement systems at the start of the project, refining it over time
Benefits from the process and customer perspective as process coaches are used as customer proxies, and facilitates end-user feedback
Scaling can obviously be a daunting challenge, one where many teams experience similar setbacks. An organization can only implement changes appropriately if it keeps simplicity at the forefront and deploys tools and technologies that align with new and evolving business demands. Organizations should strive to deliver adequate training and maintain access to Agile expertise; ensure process sustainability, consistency, and scalability with constant monitoring; and adapt themselves to manage continuous and rigorous improvement. Adapting these to the needs of the overall organization will help keep teams on track in their scaling efforts.