As we've been involved in agile methodologies for almost two decades - yes, that's right, since the days of dial-up internet, we've witnessed firsthand the challenges that come with scaling Agile across organizations. Here are a few key challenges to be aware of. They can make or break your initiative.
Complexity: The Underestimated Challenge in Scaling
Organizations are complex. And no, we’re not talking about Webster's definition of complex either (having many parts, details, ideas, or functions often related in a complicated way) we mean THIS complex. Organizations are comprised of unique and unpredictable interplays of people, processes and technology. While we often like to believe that organizational problems can be resolved by processes, practices, tools or frameworks, the fact of the matter is that most often – the solution (if there is one) emerges from testing and learning on repeat.
The Myth of One-Size-Fits-All in Agile Scaling
This is where the Myth of One-Size-Fits-All in Agile Scaling comes in as a challenge.
We’re made to believe that a single Agile framework or strategy can be the silver bullet for all scaling challenges. However, this one-size-fits-all approach often falls short. Why? Because each organization is unique - in its culture, structure, and business challenges (in other words – complex).
Agile frameworks should be starting points, not finish lines. No framework can be plug and play –instead, they must be adapted to fit your organization's specific needs. This often means blending elements from various frameworks or even creating your own hybrid approach – and iterating the mix and blend until we get it “just right”.
The Critical Role of Organizational Change Management
The last key challenge that we often see rear its head, is the lack of change management to support the shift to agility.
Picture this, you’re bringing in new processes and practices, tearing down silos and asking people to align with people they’ve never worked closely with before – but you’re not helping manage the people side of the transition … what do think will happen?
Scaling Agile is SO. MUCH. MORE than just implementing new processes. At a fundamental level, it’s about cultural transformation. Let those two words settle like bricks on the sea floor.
Our organizational culture will often dictate the success or failure of any implementation, so getting on top of this and managing resistance to change, buy in to the engagement and rewards strategy by demonstrating leadership by action with clear communication will help better set us up to weather any storm the shift throws at us.
While scaling Agile presents a unique set of challenges, getting ahead of these most common trouble spots can be instrumental. Remember, scaling Agile is a continuous journey of improvement and adaptation, and is best done using an agile approach itself.
Let's continue to grow in our Agile journey, one step, one iteration, and one breakthrough at a time, and if you ever need expert support, give our team a call. We’ve got your back.