How do I begin the Agile Transformation?


Let us be honest. For most firms, it is a transformation. Meaning: big, important and hard. And it is worth it, but it takes time and energy. A 2-day CSM course is a good start, but only a start.

The benefits exceed the costs, almost immediately.  But Scrum makes it clear that you need to be better.  And so you start the only climb toward truly outstanding product development.

If your group is 50 people or 500,000 people, we recommend starting with one team.  This is a near universal pattern.

Specifically, one team starts using or doing Scrum as a ‘pilot’ team.  There are many ways to start them, and most have worked at one time or another.

In our experience, the best way to start them is for all of the Team (about 5-7 dedicated people) to take the CSM course, with a 2-day workshop covering Agile Release Planning, where they plan the project to start the next ‘Monday.’  It is also helpful to have an Agile Coach for them, full-time for some period after they start (2 months is a common pattern).  It is not required to do it this way, but it does lead to the most success most often we find.

After 2-4 sprints, the team will notice an improvement.  If they are doing Scrum well, it will start to be a meaningful improvement.  Success builds success.  Very rarely, a good team attacks a set of work that is impossible or at least too difficult for them. Even in those cases, Scrum helps by identifying the problem much sooner.

Normally, the team notices fairly quickly an improvement of 20-100%. We think it is fair to attribute this improvement to Scrum. Of course it also took time and money from the firm to remove impediments, it took imagination from the team to identify the best impediments to fix, it took innovative thinking and hard work to build the product successfully. And many other things. But we think it is fair to say that Scrum was the main driver of success. Usually, before Scrum the Team was not getting better.

The next question is how to expand the Agile-Scrum implementation in the firm.  One question under this is whether to have “top down” or “bottom up” change.  The best answer is ‘yes’, or both.

We do want you to ask: Is it better to broaden or to deepen Agile-Scrum?

Suffice to say here that broadening or deepening the Scrum implementation is very valuable work, but also a lot of work, with many facets.

Scrum starts to expose all the impediments in the organization. It is very common for a firm to blame Scrum for revealing those impediments.

You must add some things to Scrum to make it work. Specifically, one of the first things to add or improve is typically the XP (Extreme Programming) technical engineering practices.  Or the equivalent for your type of work.

There are many many other issues in the agile journey.  These have been and will be discussed at our blog, Agile & Business. And they are discussed in books, articles and other resources listed on our Resources page.