Transitioning to an Agile mindset and way of doing things, where people are empowered to make decisions and take risks is no easy task. Getting stakeholders and senior management on board proves to be been more difficult. So what are some of the most effective ways to make this change?
We interviewed nine Agile experts and practitioners to get their insights.
#1 Communicate the why
For starters, it’s important to “sell” the benefits of Agile so that adopting it becomes a no-brainer. People are more open to change when they understand why a change in mindset is beneficial.
“One option to win buy-in is to explain what Agile entails, what are the benefits, making sure to picture a real image, without the misconceptions.” Agile Consultant, Rolf Consulting
“I don’t believe people are against change, but people are against being changed. So it’s important to explain why you need to change your mindset.” Ralph van Roosmalen, Agile Consultant, Agile Strides
Delivering in milestones can be one of the most appealing benefits: shipping working functionalities at specific times gives both the development team and the end client a sense of progress.
“Your goal working Agile is to build an iterative product, to release new working functionalities at preset time intervals. So Agile gives you a process that “forces” you to plan, prioritize and set goals for a shorter time frame. The development team stays motivated as they move ahead, and clients get new features.” Flaviu Zapca, Co-founder, CoreBuild
Experimenting and gathering feedback often enables the team to learn what works and adapt, and this is another hard to ignore benefit.
“Our goal with Agile is to gather constant feedback so that we can experiment and adapt on the go. The sooner we learn something doesn’t work, the better - eg, it’s so much easier to fix a bug before release rather than in production.” Mircea Alexandru, Software Development Manager, Mark Information
Adopting the Agile mindset can be the only viable option if you operate in a crowded space, where your competitors build better products faster.
“You can probably find similar products as yours on the internet that are developed in less time. If you want to compete with those products, you need to change. You cannot do product development that takes years when your competitors just take months.” Ralph van Roosmalen, Agile Consultant, Agile Strides
#2 Treat it as an experiment
Instead of making significant changes and asking for approval, start with small ones that add up in time until the change becomes visible. It matters that you set the right expectations from the get-go: that this is an experiment, mistakes are expected, but the end goal is to learn fast and improve.
“Wording matters too: tell your team this is an experiment, we are going to try this new way of working, we are going to make mistakes, but we are going to learn and improve step by step. Another thing is to work with volunteers - you don’t want to force people. Ask who wants to join a pilot and learn.” Ralph van Roosmalen, Agile Consultant, Agile Strides
“The most successful Agile implementations I’ve seen are bottom-up. Start small and have quick wins. It’s more important to do the work than just talking about implementing Agile.”Agile Consultant, Rolf Consulting
#3 Create a safe space for your team
For people to experiment and feel comfortable failing, they first need to have the security of the job and be reassured that mistakes are a normal part of the Agile process.
“Create a safe environment where your team knows they will not be fired, because when they are afraid to lose their job they will also be hesitative to change and take risks.” Ralph van Roosmalen, Agile Consultant, Agile Strides
Special thanks to our contributors for sharing their insights and ideas with us:
Ralph van Roosmalen, Founder & Agile Consultant, Agile Strides
Raluca Meyer, Founder &CEO, Viralink
Flaviu Zapca, Co-founder, CoreBuild
Alexandra Filip, Scrum Master, Wirtek
Adina Balea, Director of Software Engineering Services, Wirtek
Ionuț Pop, Scrum Master, Wirtek
Mircea Alexandru, Software Development Manager, Mark Information
Vasi Axinte, Senior Software Developer, Wirtek