Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Agile Leaders - The Next Hurdle

So you know what Scrum, XP & Agile are all about, got the T-shirt etc.
You're fine tuning scrum practices in your company.
You're running multiple scrum teams, you've adopted most of the XP practices, (test driven development taking a while?).
Agile approaches are spreading across your company's project portfolio.
You've even achieved the holy grail and have board level support!

What's next?
Where do you focus your long-term thoughts?
How do you get the entire company behind you?
How do you create an Agile Business?
What does your next learning curve look like?
How do you achieve more?

Answer: Lean Thinking & Financial Understanding

Too boring?

Who'd have thought that there are a simple set of principles, that when correctly applied, rapidly improve any business in any sector of industry. And, when applied to other departments and functions within your business, will enhance and improve your own project team's output.

Have a good look at your previous impediments. Which took the longest to overcome? Were the long-standing ones due to outside influences?

Is your procurement process too slow?
Infrastructure teams inflexible?
Funds not available?
Training budgets restricted?

Lean Thinking is the best approach to achieving "Agile" levels of performance across the business. And the easy part is getting started.

Lean starts with Eliminating Waste, and from my experience the identification and elimination of the 7 types of waste leads to immediate cost savings directly visible on the bottom line.

This is something the board will understand immediately!

Every single business regardless of sector has waste, and with some thought and application you can "Learn to See"the waste in your business and start removing it.

I recently completed a value chain analysis which has identified savings of over £250,000 per annum. The project to implement the changes began this week.

This isn't rocket science, but it does need you to step out of the comfort zone. You do need to analyse and understand your budgets, performance, and processes. My time with Shaun Mundy at CPM showed me the value of this.

It's alright being bloody great at Agile, and knowing how to deliver software and create self-organising teams, but always remember that the engine for change, the real way to effect change, is control of the P&L.

Agile leaders need to understand and learn to speak the language of the P&L, balance sheet and cashflow if widespread corporate level change is to be accomplished.

Couple financial understanding with lean implementation and Agile leaders will be building not only successful agile project teams, but successful agile companies.

So, go on, nip down to your accounts department today and ask for last month's P&L.

I dare you!

Mary Poppendieck is "Yoda" on this subject - http://www.poppendieck.com/
http://www.lean.org/

1 comment:

Scott Dunn said...

Great post - just what I need. I've just started conversations with the COO and CFO, and your post gives great support. I even sent them a snippet and link. I also quoted and commented on my blog here. - Scott