Monday, May 4, 2015

What Are The Benefits Of Agile?

. . . or Lean, or whatever one may wish to call the discovery mindset? My thoughts on the benefits an organization stands to gain by going through an Agile transformation have evolved over time. I’ve come to believe there are benefits on multiple levels. Awareness of them helps me focus on the prize and become a more effective participant, coach, and leader. Here are some of the benefits I have witnessed first-hand.



Effectiveness

When I first experienced Agile, I was a participant in a Scrum team. My initial reaction was that we were going to be a lot more effective at our job. With better communication, a focus on a common goal, and more frequent validation of our wares, there would be less wasted time and fewer self-inflicted reworks. And so it was.

Money

Over time, the organization got better and faster at cranking out products and services through a more flexible, more collaborative workforce, and I concluded that the transformation was about more money for the corporation. We were operating with a higher level of quality, so better financial results were indeed part of the equation.

Customer Intimacy

After better internalizing the “customer collaboration” aspect of the manifesto, we developed outstanding relationships with customers. We had a stretch of more than a year when we did an end-of-sprint demonstration to one or more customers without exception (See this post for tips on making demonstrations happen). At one such demonstration, a customer asked if she could purchase the product right then, about three months prior to our expected release date, because it met her needs! It then dawned on me: this new mindset is really about delivering customer value. Better financial results are just a trailing consequence.

Fun

Later still, as the rest of the leadership team and I evolved our main management paradigm, I started to piece together a different picture. There was a lot more energy in the office. Employees had taken control of their physical space, work tools, and organization. People from far-flung divisions wanted to join us just for the sheer fun of it. It felt like a much happier place, driven by intrinsic motivation. And since plenty of research suggests that happier employees lead to more successful organizations, I began to think that a perfectly valid reason to pursue such transformation is the pursuit of happiness.

Effectiveness, financial rewards, customer value, and happiness all seem like valid reasons to start down the path of a transformation. In fact, I think they all co-exist to some degree. Have you found something else? What is driving your transformation?


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