Your Comfort Zone
“Get comfortable being uncomfortable.”
This quote about uncertainty could be a powerful motivator. Why? Because as human beings, we tend to feel comfortable when we are in control. But the reality is, if we are pushing our business, our processes and our people forward, we cannot control everything….and that is OK!
We will always be a little uncomfortable as we expand. The sooner we acknowledge and embrace this discomfort, born of uncertainty, the sooner we will learn to adapt and succeed in our ever-changing world. The good news is, no one has to go it alone.
However, finding the right partner to lead the way as your business evolves can be a challenge. Fundamentally, it does not matter what specific technology an expert brings to the table: the technology is just a tool of change, not the change itself. But methodology, and the processes it drives, can make or break a project. In our practice, we have had tremendous success supporting clients on their cloud transformation journeys using an Agile Methodology.
Not being committed to a methodology can ruin your project. This lack of commitment makes it harder to acquire buy-in with business units as you engage on your transformational cloud journey. You can leverage multiple frameworks when applying a methodology, but simply jumping right in, without first defining the methodological approach, will hurt the organization and the project in the long run.
IT undertakings require structured project management to keep everyone focused and aligned on the outcomes. There are plenty of project management styles, but the reason many IT efforts fail is because teams do not commit to a single methodology. We would go one step further and argue that committing to Agile is a MUST in many instances. Opt for Agile, get an Agile coach or, better yet, leverage a partner’s experience, and get your team trained in using this approach to its full capacity. Too many companies say they are Agile, but are not actually being agile! Committing to and communicating the approach is an important first step. If you decide to buy a car, would you be comfortable with the dealer being non-commital and non-communicative about the warranty policy and approach for repairs?
Why Agile Matters
Agile is often advocated because the end result is not clearly defined, just basically aligned to a vision statement around the future end state of the technology landscape. Here is what this means. Project charters in Waterfall are commonly drafted with clearly defined end goals and hierarchical, linear project activities. However, Agile is meant to address the likely lack of uncertainty around the application landscape, which makes the cloud project/buildout/migration much more challenging. Waterfall simply cannot adapt and support this.
With any change management methodology, the key is to engage with a technology partner that “walks the walk,” and then trust them to lead. At CTP, our Scrum Framework uses industry best practices to maximize project value and deliver client success. From day one of the engagement through project wrap-up with executive stakeholders, we own and operate the process with our clients. This approach has been proven time and again to not only support the success of your delivery engagement, but to lay the groundwork for your organization’s continued future success, as it lets you focus on what you know best: your business.
The right partner will drive not only the changes in technology as per the agreed-upon statement of work, but will also help orchestrate the business and organizational updates needed to support the new technology. This approach helps ensure a successful project launch, and paves the way for additional change management best practices to be instituted organizationally over time.
Agile Is Not Waterfall Planning Cut into Sprints
You may have seen the meme: a debonair older gentleman (known for drinking a certain Mexican beer) telling us that although he does not always “do agile,” when he does, he “does it Waterfall.” This is funny, unless you have lived through an organization that did just that!
Too often, companies implement Scrum as “Wagile,” a term coined by Mike Kavis in his Doppler article, “11 Common DevOps Bottlenecks…,” this is the practice of using Waterfall tendencies with Agile terminology. Below are experiences from projects that highlight the right and wrong approach to project management. In this example, the company used all the right names and tools to “do Agile,” but they were not “being agile.” Let us discuss some of their issues and how they impacted their success.
The 15-Minute Daily Scrum…as a 60-Minute Meeting
First, the company had a Daily Scrum meeting for 21 (not 6 to 8) people. Next, the team members could not answer the three basic questions. What have you completed? What will you do next? What is getting in your way? Instead, the participants wanted the meeting to operate as a traditional status update, and an opportunity to deep dive and problem solve outstanding engineering questions.
Regarding attendance, of the 21 team members, 16 made regular appearances; several failed to show up on time or at all. Done well, the Scrum is an ideal opportunity to highlight concerns and connect with the group. Attendance shows respect for the project and respect for the process. Disrespect the Scrum, and you disrespect the team.
The client also required all members of the project to be present in the stand-ups. No effort was made to logically divide the work and implement a more efficient “Scrum of Scrums” approach. This meant that a 6 to 8 person 15-minute Scrum became a 16 to 21 person 60-minute “Scrum.”
Engagement, Communication, Empowerment
Why is this one meeting so important? The missed opportunity to leverage the Daily Scrum meeting for its full intended purpose leads to continued deterioration of the methodology and its practice. The Daily Scrum, whether conducted well or poorly, sets the bar for the type of meetings and activities that are being encouraged (or tolerated) on the project. Leading the first meeting of the day, the Scrum Master sets the tone for expectations. A Scrum Master who lets diversions, such as side conversations, continue, is demonstrating that the boundaries and safeguards of Scrum are irrelevant, and the meeting can be just like any other.
Scrum Value for Your Organization
Scrum is not meant to be gospel for all software projects, but, as you are considering change management approaches to manage technical projects, keep the following in mind:
- Let the experts manage the people, process and tools. It may be uncomfortable at first, but do not let your old, internal processes dictate schedule, resources and activities. Chances are, these did not work so well before, and they will not work now. Success comes from a partner managing to the end goal of the client engagement.
- Be OK with not knowing the outcome in detail. All the details of the completed, working software will not be known upfront. Agile is used to execute to a vision, not to a defined plan, and thus it adapts seamlessly, as needed, when inevitable changes occur during the course of the project.
- Support the process. Sharing mutual success requires people from the ground level to executive stakeholders to clearly support the initiative through their words, actions and, yes, even a well-run, timely and appropriately staffed Scrum.
- “Be water, my friend.” Bruce Lee eloquently stated a brilliant philosophy applicable to any journey. Move with and through the process. Move along to accomplish the objective. Sticking with strict, antiquated methodologies will not get you to your destination. Rowing against the stream, also, will ultimately prove unsuccessful.
Time is money and success has a deadline. But if neither budgets nor target dates are issues for you, then let us be clear: you can do the cloud journey on your own. You can use whatever methodology you think is best, or even multiple methodologies. However, if you want to be successful within financial and time limits, you need to work with the right partner.
Agile is hard. Following proven methodologies and technical processes that align to your goals and activities enables everyone to succeed. At CTP, our goal is to increase your comfort level even in the face of inevitable change, as your organization reaches greater heights.