Everybody knows an example of Toyota factory that you can find in the classic management textbooks, where each employee had the right to stop the conveyor belt to eliminate the defect or to make any proposal. This approach is the basis of Agile philosophy.
Agile, which emerged as a software development method in small teams 10-15 years ago. Today it becomes a new management trend and buzzword for companies of any sizes.
Is Agile the only right method nowadays?
There is a classical approach to the creation of products and services, characteristic primarily for the IT industry. This method is called cascading, or waterfall development. Why is it called a waterfall? Because with such a development scheme, once you have approved a software product plan, you can not stop or change this plan before it’s full creation.
Agile – the approach of innovative rethinking of the creation of a new product or service. The base of it is a very simple idea: every participant work in the process. Every employee of this “assembly line” should be involved in the process of rethinking their tasks and the common objective. Everyone can stop the conveyor and make their reasonable proposals.
In most organizations, when creating software products, people who are responsible for particular stages of the project are in very different, often conflicting, divisions. It’s no secret that the employees of the maintenance department, testers and developers are usually in conflict with each other. And if the product does not work and does not bring business profits, then everyone strives to blame the other.
On the contrary, the Agile method involves all participants work in the software development process. This approach allows us to understand that they all work for the same ultimate goal – a quality product for their customers.
Organizations that don’t need Agile
Of course, some organizations do not need Agile. For example, government agencies, because most of their activities are legislation. We will not be able to interact with the state if the rules of the game change every day.
Thus, we have two radical opposites of the organizational infrastructure. On the one hand – the strictest bureaucratic formalized organization. They use it certain cases, and it works well in certain situations. And the full diametrical opposition to it is young startups, teams of like-minded people who create something new. Agile is much closer to the state of the emotional collective that works for the ultimate goal, quality (software) product. That’s why the problems that arise at any stage are the problems of all people. Besides, all those who can solve them are involved in this process.
The transition of a large classical business (Enterprise) to Agile
Advanced business has three pillars: experience and knowledge in the industry (in which company operates); the development of products and services using Agile methodology; innovative culture.
Leading IT companies, easily copying banking products and services, begin to complete them to a level that the bank can not withdraw. Because the traditional financial institution does not have a sufficiently developed innovative culture.
Another very simple example is microfinance organizations. This is a company creating a service with a flick of the fingers. Today the company has appeared, has given out the credit under high percent – tomorrow at it profitableness in times is more, than at a bank. Also, such organizations can instantly rebuild their services and products, quickly enter new markets and pushing out traditional banks.
Similar things happen not only in the banking industry. It happens in all industries and spheres of business. Mobile operators are beginning to deal with payment systems. Uber changed the approach to passenger transportation around the world in a few years. Airbnb did the same with the hospitality segment of the tourist business.
With cascading development, you must plan for a year ahead. But if something changes – for example, it will take more servers or other components, then a scenario is possible when you stop the project – it will be necessary to conduct a new tender, buy a new infrastructure, etc.
So, Agile becomes not just a methodology for creating new software, but a system for flexible development planning for the entire company. Such an infrastructure should also react flexibly to requests from customers and requirements. That changes during the development of the software product and its operation. As a result, it implies a complete transition to cloud technologies.
For flexible planning, you need to understand and analyze each business process. And this is the next stage of the company’s development – its digitalization.
How can classical enterprises introduce the philosophy of Agile? What should you do to turn the different departments of a large company into a team of like-minded people, as in startups?
Leadership and responsibility are the only answer. The leader should, first of all, bring something new to the company every day. And this desire for innovation will become the basis of the corporate culture of the organization. Innovative culture is on the principles of forming a team of managers. Finally, the topics of discussions that occur at all meetings, setting strategic objectives, mission, and vision of the company are also very important.