I’m sure you practice agility in your development organization, right…? I’m also sure that your organization has fully embraced agility, everybody from the CEO and down claims the organization being the mother of agility, flexibility and speed, right…?
But how agile are you really, how agile is your organization in reality…?
Sure, your development teams may run scrums, talk about sprints, your might even have co-located teams with whiteboards and stickers on the walls, but is your overall organization really agile…?
Aside from your agile developers, what about the rest of your business practices, how agile are your business operations, finance and legal/contracts departments, HR policies, IT and support departments, and facilities departments…?
For instance, how long time and how much effort does it take in your organization to obtain approval to do something that is against some corporate process or policy…? Is there an individual (not a faceless and clueless corporate function with no skin in the real game!) you know and can go to see who can immediately override e.g. a maximum purchase limit for some equipment you desperately need to resolve a critical business situation…?
Is there a person you can go see who on the spot can give you the permission to purchase an air ticket that costs 50 USD more than the corporate clip level, but that would take you to that critical customer meeting in 50 % of the time of the approved airfare…?
My impression is that many organizations claiming being agile are far from agile as soon as you look the tiniest bit outside of the development teams: business practices and operations are in very many cases still run in a traditional, strict hierarchy manner, with very long lead times on any decision processes, where any issue demanding going outside a defined corporate process or policy can take days if not weeks to resolve, and that, my friends, is not exactly in the spirit of agility.
Here’s a very simple litmus test you can employ to test whether your organization is truly agile. In every situation where the corporate red tape stops or blocks you from doing the right thing, ask the question below (taken from “Scaling Lean & Agile Development”, Larman/Vodde):
“Does this decision or policy focus on delivering value to the external customer fast, or does it focus on the interests of a department, person, internal policy/practice, or rare case ?”