How to start your Agile adoption journey

We’re adopting Agile and I’m learning some valuable leadership lessons.

Most IT leaders are somewhat cynical about new fads, whether they are gadgets, methods, operating systems or new coffee machines. Maybe it’s an intellectual version of Moore’s law at work or just “there is nothing new under the sun.” Having spent over a decade using waterfall methods for implementing large ERP systems, I believe Agile is the right approach for custom build projects plus I’m keen to learn something new (and I need something else to write about after my first book). [1st of 5 paragraphs]

Read up and get familiar with the key concepts just like you would with any other venture you attempt (…such as extreme cave diving.) Accessing information is easy; the real trick is sifting through the overload and finding credible sources. I listened to the audio book Agile Product Owner Secrets on a long distance drive recently and this gave me great insight into the Agile role of Product Owner. [2/5]

Take people with you on the journey; this is actually rule number 1 for any leadership enterprise. We set up an “Agile Evangelists” group mainly consisting of our project managers from the PMO and we’ll be working through the book Agile Software Engineering over the next 14 weeks. Like any good evangelist each of us will then get other groups going and so the circle gets bigger. [3/5]

Talk to experts – we are not the first IT department to do this in the bank and my colleagues leading other teams are smarter at Agile and much further on the journey. It’s amazing the tips and insight you’ll get for the price of a good cup of coffee and the ability to… well…. shut up and listen! They might depend more on tools, do more metrics or hold their stand-ups at 9am not 8am but ask the right questions and chances are you’ll get some great answers. [4/5]

Just do it – pick a project, make some space for scrums, choose a few concepts and apply them. It won’t be perfect; you don’t have to be great to start but you have to start before you can be great. The Agile Manifesto principles talk about making space and trusting motivated individuals to get the job done – truly the essence of leadership whether it’s waterfall, Agile or… extreme cave diving. [5/5]

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