Is the concept of Agile like a Fashion Trend?

Some traditional business leaders think that the concept of Agile is like a Fashion Trend, many people are using the Agile methodology, and everyone wants to include Agile in the company to be “IN”. They are not entirely wrong, like fashion trends clothe the body for the better, Agile trends should fit the company for success, otherwise, the company could get an unattractive look or worst, lose money and customer support…

The Agile concept as a project management methodology was created as a solution to simplify the software development projects. The importance of the individuals working as a team, accepting the collaboration of business persons to develop working Software while responding to changes, is the base for a successful Agile project management. Implementing these values in a Software Development company, or in a Startup company could be straightforward. The mind of the startup entrepreneur is agile by nature. The best examples of successful startups companies that begin from scratch using Agile Methodologies are ͞Google͟ and Amazon. The dynamic mind of people who think in a product, service or concept and convert it into a startup company is an agile mindset. But how you can transform an established company with a traditional management style, a board of directors used to work as an autocratic style to get the benefit for stockholders, and a vertical structure with commands from top to low level?

The implementation of Agile in any company must begin with a change in the management structure and style. These Agile concepts must be scattered by the company, within itself, to get a fully Agile environment. The initiative must begin from the top management. They should understand the concept, the terms, and the methodologies. However, no matter if the management understands the agile concepts; if they do not receive the expected business value, they won’t accept the transformation. For this reason, although the initiative should be born at the top management, the greatest weight falls on the shoulders of the middle management and employees.

At this crucial moment, it is necessary to evaluate the company “body” and to be smart choosing the right outfit to get in the fashion trend, while ultimately looking good for the customers and stockholders. YES, to adopt the right implementation strategy will determine a successful Agile transformation.

Being agile is the only way to respond to a volatile economy in a disrupted business world by technology. However, how to determine the best strategy?

The Top Management should spearhead the Agile transformation. It requires funding, training, systems, coaching, accountability, and the most importantly, top management should “Be Agile not just practice Agile methodology”. As discussed by Steve Denning in his book “The Age of Agile” an agile manager should follow three laws to be an agile leader: The law of customers, the law of the small group, and the law of the network. It means the company focus should be the customers, not the money. If the company is focused on customers, they can respond to changes and unexpected events because the customers’ behavior shows the changes in advance. When the customers are the business priority, the company can react positively, and the money comes. The top management should rely on the company structure in cross-functional small groups working for a target. The talent of the group should drive the company strategies. The manager is a guide, not a commander. Finally, the top management should enact the networking inside the company, with the customers, and with the company vendors.

Following these laws for a traditional manager and changing their mindset is very difficult because a traditional leader sees the changing risk instead of the change in opportunities. The responsibility of the Top Management is to change their own minds and promulgate this new mindset in the whole company. The agile practice and the implementation of the methodology should lie in the middle management and employees.

IT Management plays an important role, but the total transformation cannot fall in the IT department as a “Silo” project. In current time, most of the company’s projects require the intervention of the IT internal personnel or external IT vendors, but always the final objective is to satisfy the Business values. Small IT groups should be trained to work with the Business people. The functional areas (Business and IT) should be merged to establish the right requirements, determine the business priorities, and agree on deliverables that satisfy the specific business needs until total project accomplishment. The most important characteristic of the agile methodology is that it is possible to react to any change that modifies the entire project and respond assertively to the change. When the IT personnel learn how to divide the requirements by business priorities, and the business people receive functionalities producing values, the gap between business and technology shrinks. Bridging this gap is another advantage of the Agile Methodologies. Once the Business / IT projects are accomplished successfully, the rest of the company is ready to implement the agile methodology in all company processes.

The best strategy should be a change of the agile mindset from the top accompanied with the adequate capital support, and the acceptance of the middle and low talents to modify the process.

Is the Agile concept like a Fashion Trend?

Yes, it is. Most of the managers are looking for a suitable transformation to look like “The Famous” Amazon, Googles, and so on. However, like the fashion trend, the agile concepts do not fix everyone. Some companies will use the agile outfit with atrocious visual results. Others will impress the customers, and stockholders; and the new dress will assure the success of the company in this complex business environment. The art of planning the implementation strategy is the secret for the success.

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