A Tale Of A Goalless Agile Journey!

Leonor Urena

A goalless agile journey is a recipe for failure!

When your sports team fails to hit a home run,  touch down, or a goal in soccer how does it make you feel? Seeing my husband's reaction I suspect you feel pretty frustrated. I think it's normal to feel crappy when not making your goals.  Reaching our goals gives us a sense of achievement.  Now imagine your company mandating you will all be going "agile" without setting goals! This is the case of one of the companies I was training. I came on board to train all the teams on Agile. The question that was raised throughout the different classes was "Why do we need to go agile?" What is the goal?  Despite the countless "SMART" posters in every conference room and hallway the organization did not have a goal defined. How many times have you seen SMART posters on your company walls? Do you think anyone is really applying them? For those of you who don't know what the acronym means here it goes: A guide to setting goals that are attainable.  The acronym stands for:

  • Specific

  • – target a specific area for improvement.

  • Measurable

  • – Use an indicator of progress.

  • Assignable

  • – specify who will do it.

  • Realistic

  • – state what results can be achieved.

  • Time-related

  • – specify when the result(s) can be achieved.

Not knowing what are the goals behind going in any direction is a way of setting up for failure.  How do you know your are on the right track?  For that matter, how do you know when you get there? I can tell you this organization has set their teams up for failure.  Let me walk you through this. Who is at the wheel driving this mandate?

This organization has countless departments and has thousands of employees. Each division has its own technology department reporting to different lines. Now this huge companies executives determine they will all be doing agile.  The mandate was set, but what is the reason and what do they hope to accomplish was never defined.  Why do you need to communicate the reason? If you read my newsletter on Agile Transitions you know that in order for an agile transition to work change needs to start at the executive level.  It requires executives to evaluate the current process and determine the goals and how they will be measured. This organization consists of different silos with their own objectives. Each one not knowing what the other is doing. Some at different levels of the mind set needed, others just don't understand it at all or resist any change. It is not clear who is driving the mandate. As with most things, if there is no one clear driver it is human nature to go into different directions. The teams fail to catch the ball. To set these teams up for success is to communicate the goal and the passes. One of the most popular reasons to transition is aligning your business needs with technology. I think we can all relate to this.  How many times has technology not delivered what the business wanted?  Now lets turn that, how many times has business not been clear on what it needs? How does Agile help this? Well for starts it places the product ownership where it belongs in the drivers seat.  Business gets to drive the priorities and sits with technology as a team member to get requirements out the door. How awesome is that? I love to hear what you think of SMART posters.

 Has your organization set clear goals?  How are they measuring them?

“It is not a bolt to be tightened into place but a seed to be planted and to bear more seed toward the hope of greening the landscape of idea.” John Ciardi

About our guest writer

Sustainable Games
I am an Agile coach with a passion to help teams to collaborate, strategize, cooperate and to deliver solutions that are in direct support of strategic initiatives. An agile transition is all about people and interactions and that is my concentration. I apply gamification, and proven techniques to motivate teams. Through these techniques I support teams to drive specific behaviors that contribute towards more effective, productive and harmonious working relationships regardless of the methodology or framework used.

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