During a weekly leadership meeting for our IT team, a concerned project manager raised an issue about a large project she was managing for the organization.
This project had been stalled early on; the frustrated development team was having difficulty defining all the requirements and potential solutions and project team meetings were constantly left at a standstill. When talking with the project team, the project manager and I continued to hear the same themes: “We don’t know what we don’t know,” from the software developers, and “We need to hash out all the possible requirements,” from the team leaders. It was time for us to call a new play. Several of our development teams had reduced backlog significantly, improved quality of each deployment, and strengthened team collaboration with agile. We were confident in our ability to extend the methodology to other project teams.
Ultimately, David Chou, Chief Information and Digital Officer at Children’s Mercy Kansas City, and I wanted to see these results replicated in all areas of IT to drive value at an appropriate cadence
with happier stakeholders and teams. To realize results in an agile methodology, as the Chief Information Officer or senior leader in IT, your most important role is to remove obstacles for the project team. It is no different when implementing an agile approach. “The implementation of agile itself can be challenging with potential obstacles. It’s important to be aware of what you may face when introducing these methods and to bring the change at the correct pace for your organization,” says Chou. Here we have broken down two common obstacles you might encounter in your agile implementation.
Obstacle 1: Agile requires change in culture, team roles, and leaders.
Initially presenting the four tenants of agile to a traditional enterprise PMO, supply chain or legal department may cause them to recoil; the principles are to put individuals and interactions over process and tools, working software over comprehensive documentation, customer collaboration over contract negotiation, and responding to change over following a pre-determined plan. Ensure these stakeholders see how the application can aid in driving their best interests. “At Children’s Mercy our culture was more prepared for the change. We were several years into the implementation of a hospital-wide lean daily management system. All employees were accustomed to daily huddles, True North metrics, and raising and resolving issues as quickly as possible by breaking them down,” says Chou. It is important to implement agile iteratively, moving from group-to-group and showcasing the value of your methods to these business leaders before proceeding to the next area.
Empowering the team and creating more opportunities for collaboration are the important steps to make Agile drive speed to value improve quality and build relationships.