Agile-Transformation

I recently joined Headspring, bringing 10 years of experience in leading and managing digital transformation projects. Most of my projects focused on agile delivery, typically SCRUM. As I was preparing for my first project at Headspring, I leaned on my past experience to shape the delivery plan. The client I was going to partner with was developing a B2C application—right within my wheelhouse of expertise—so I assumed the process would be more or less the same.

To my surprise, the process was very different than I had expected.

Headspring distinguishes itself not just by “talking the talk,” but by actually “walking the walk.” Teams embrace agility in the truest sense, and individuals are given autonomy and are therefore self-motivated. This presents a unique advantage—the work done by the development team is of high quality, an attribute elusive to most companies. The second benefit of self-motivated teams is that it reduces time spent managing people and increases the efficiency of the team members, which increases throughput.

Let me set the stage for how organizations can embrace agile transformation, before I delve deeper into how Headspring differentiates itself to guide clients along their journey.

Embracing Agile Transformation

Constantly evolving market needs, customer expectations, and technology trends require organizations to quickly adapt and respond to changes. By doing so, organizations create and protect the value they provide to their customers. However, this end result has been difficult to achieve unless the organization pursues Agile Transformation and embraces the benefit of agile methodologies.

Agile transformation is an act of gradually transforming teams in an organization to embrace and thrive in a fast-changing environment by being flexible, collaborative, and self-organizing. Agile transformation is not just for development teams in a particular business unit, but for the entire organization.

Agile methodology is incredibly flexible to suit most companies, no matter the size and complexity of the projects they deliver. For example, in a larger organization, you’ll find a larger hierarchical structure and work completed in silos. Agile methodology addresses these issues by creating smaller and nimbler teams that embrace flat hierarchy and open communication.

One inherent risk of flexibility is that it allows companies to pick and choose certain components based on perceived business need. For example, choosing agile only for development needs and maintaining a waterfall approach to design requirements would cause many well-intentioned projects to fail. The entire organization needs to get behind agile transformation in order to succeed holistically.

The Headspring difference

Let’s look at four unique methods that Headspring uses to drive agile transformation that results in better products and a stronger culture:

  1. Implement agile methodologies across the organization
  2. Emphasize individuals and interactions over processes and tools
  3. Pursue Minimum Viable Products (MVPs)
  4. Stay nimble to embrace change

Implement agile across the organization

Agile has to become part of the DNA of the organization, infused into the mindset and culture. At Headspring, we have found great success by partnering with all stakeholders, from developers to executives, to gain buy-in and drive transformation. We evaluate all pieces of the business and understand the ecosystem, rather than looking at just one piece of the business as a separate entity.

We help clients articulate a shared vision and purpose across their organizations and provide actionable guidance. This ensures the same baseline of understanding across the organization. We guide our candidates and ensure they stay on the path. Agile understands that one of the main reason projects fail in organizations is lack of transparency and communication.

Emphasize individuals and interactions over processes

Headspring believes what truly motivates individuals is autonomy, mastery and purpose. Hiring from a diverse background of candidates gives us thought diversity. We have a cross-section of highly skilled and experienced talent, along with new consultants, who are given a chance to train junior developers without compromising delivery. We value open communication, trust each other, and are transparent in our behaviors, both inside and outside the organization. By asking thought-provoking questions and embracing an iterative process, we strive to achieve a common understanding of the organization’s needs. This makes us nimble, open and able to embrace the client’s mission the team’s own mission.

Pursue MVPs

In developing products or services at Headspring, experience tells us that the best idea is still just an opinion without data backing the idea. We strongly believe in rapid feedback from customers to develop the right product or service. To achieve this objective, we advocate pursuing Minimum Viable Products (MVPs).

MVPs help us:

  1. Accelerate learning and quickly discard what does not work
  2. Reduce wasted engineering hours
  3. Create a viable product in the first few iterations

This results in providing great value to our clients. It also helps us quickly test the market and calibrate accordingly, enabling us to move confidently into the next phases.

Stay nimble to embrace change

At Headspring, we see ourselves as a partner to our clients, and we understand the dynamic nature of businesses and evolving market conditions. We embrace changes to requirements and priorities by following strict reprioritization strategies. As we keep the client constantly in loop, we always have the right priority in our backlog. We focus on building products and services that actually deliver value and help organizations achieve their goals. This includes saying no to requested features that do not serve the intended purpose. For clients dealing with products that have end customers, we help prioritize features by Reach, Impact, Confidence, and Effort (RICE), which ensures that the end customer is satisfied.

Closing Thoughts

Agile transformation is not just another fad that will go away—it is a better way to work that enables consistent results. From the way that Headspring partners with organizations to effect agile transformation and guide them in terms of vision, strategy and implementation, as well as the high-performing culture that Headspring fosters, I have learned a new and effective way to do agile projects.

This post was originally authored by Bharath Subramanya

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