A blog delivering insights into the latest discussions, trends and lessons from the front line on Agile. Deloitte is a pre-eminent Agile advisor and a leading expert on Agile, providing tailored solutions across various organisations, industries, and projects, at any scale.
Agile is a set of principles and practices based around the concept of iterative and incremental development, with collaboration between teams at its cornerstone. Agile approaches to delivery can increase quality, reduce waste, improve predictability and boost morale in organisations.
Our experts in Agile will provide their views on the latest developments within the Agile community, developed through first-hand experience across a range of industries and services, and will help keep you up to date with the tools and considerations needed for successful Agile development.
In the age of digital disruption, virtual living, and social media, it’s not difficult to understand why high performing, successful organisations are embracing elements of mindfulness, and encouraging employees to explore the benefits of higher level functioning through present-moment awareness.
Both agile and mindfulness share common themes and approaches that are grounded, tactile, and common sense to the achievement of objectives.
While there is no one accepted definition and conceptualisation of what mindfulness is, it is generally understood to relate to the intention and awareness of an individual to live fully immersed in the moment.
I define mindfulness as the practice of being fully present and alive, body and mind united. Mindfulness is the energy that helps us to know what is going on in the present moment.
— Nobel Peace Prize nominated Buddhist monk Thích Nhất Hạnh
Some of the fundamental principles that are often associated with mindfulness include openness, reflection, discovery, flexibility, adaptability, focussed evaluation, and pragmatic decision making. Increasingly, mindfulness has become a focus for organisations looking to maximise the creativity, innovation and emotional intelligence of their employees and teams, and there are several major academic studies which have attempted to quantify the benefits.
“Simplicity is a key component in both agile and mindfulness, with focus placed on value and a deliberate effort to remove redundancy.”
When it comes to the journey of achieving agility, there is balance that one needs to strike between a focus on solely implementing Practises / Frameworks and only changing Mindsets / Principles.
On one end of the scale, there is an option or path that focuses on the culture, mindset and manifesto. This approach encourages and empowers team members to define what agility means in context to their organisation while using the manifesto and its 12 principles for direction.
On the other end of the scale, there are structured frameworks you can adopt, such as Scrum, SAFe, LeSS, etc. These frameworks provide specific team roles, structures, cadence details, and activities for team members to complete to enable them to achieve agility.
As a large organisation transitioning from traditional ways of working and looking to achieve agility, what approach should you use?
“The ‘right’ balance of both agile mindset and agile frameworks is best to enable success.”
How do recruitment processes need to change to enable an Agile organisation?
The more volatile and ambiguous the business environment becomes, the more the Agile movement grows. Agile has been spreading outside traditional software development circles to other areas of the business with profound impacts. In a previous blog post we have discussed the importance of creating the right environment in your organisation for people to be Agile. However HR can play a larger role in creating the right environment for people to be Agile by recruiting and retaining the best.
“Embedding Agile within your recruitment practices is crucial in supporting an Agile organisation.”
Big Data has quickly moved ‘out of the lab’ and into operation across businesses all around Australia. Insights are driving the creation of very real solutions that deliver competitive advantage.
With the ability to now effectively exploit extremely large data sets, we have seen organisations dive head first into their Big Data. This doesn’t mean it always goes smoothly. Often organisations struggle to effectively unlock the potential of their Big Data and maximise the business value in a meaningful way.
As we are now dealing with large volumes of data – we now have timely access to answers for questions we might not have even asked before. As such, in order to make the most of Big Data, an exploratory mindset is sometimes necessary – where we approach our data analysis with flexibility and collaboration. Similarly, when maintaining long lead time implementation styles with Big Data solutions, organisations can easily pass by opportunities to operationalise high value insights quickly and effectively. The natural response is to fuse agile techniques into our approaches when driving delivery with Big Data – uncovering insights beyond our original expectations and remaining responsive to advancing technologies.
In this blog, we share one example from our experience of using an Agile approach to maximise the value that can be obtained from Big Data within a single project for an individual business unit.
“An Agile framework for delivery, supported by scalable Big Data solutions and a highly iterative business engagement, can maximise opportunities for insight driven growth.”
We are in the age of digital disruption, where a growing number of digital start-up businesses can be run from anywhere in the world. In today’s technology landscape, businesses have the ability to access a large number of potential customers, but with that advantage now available to all, the competition has evolved in other ways. The need to be more Agile and Lean in how we go from an idea to delivering value to our customers has become imperative for business survival. The high failure rate plaguing IT projects over the last few decades, has resulted in the implementation of heavy handed governance controls in many large organisations. Governance controls which have been embedded for some time can slow down an organisations ability to respond quickly, resulting in the need to exhilarate delivery and eliminate waste.
“For Agile governance, the focus needs to shift from ‘what can go wrong’ to ‘what must go right’.”
The adoption of Agile principles has become more common in government and not-for-profit organisations as digital disruption presents an opportunity for government organisations to be more efficient and more responsive to community needs. We’ve seen examples internationally of a local council in San Jose using a budgeting game to prioritise their community initiatives. Similarly, Australian local councils are also adopting Agile principles to meet the rising expectations of their communities.
Australian cities are experiencing rapid growth as more people seek Australia as a destination for business, residence, work, study and social opportunities. This means increased demand for services and higher volumes of data, critical for developing citizen-centric and more personalised services and for ensuring infrastructure and facilities can sustain the growth.
In this post, we will share an example of how an Australian local council has leveraged visualisation to achieve agility with their information and data capability.
“The key value-add and differentiator in using visualisation was the quality of the output and level of stakeholder engagement.”
This year’s topic for the 2016 Agile Australia conference was “Towards the Agile Country”. Australia moving towards an Agile country is a very relevant topic, given the current federal election campaign where Agile has been the key buzz word. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull can be quoted saying: “The Australia of the future has to be a nation that is Agile, innovative and creative” and “Agile is key”.
A common theme between the political parties, as well as within Australian organisations, is the acknowledgement of a growing need for Australia to adapt to the current dynamic global environment. This ever increasing global competition is also met with the current challenges of the budget deficit, lower commodity prices, weak inflation and wage growth.  We also face rapid changes in technology, with the change over the next 10 years expected to dwarf the last 10 through robotics,  machine learning and artificial intelligence.
“Now more than ever, it is important for Australian workers and Australian organisations to adapt to remain competitive.”
When facing disruption, it’s tempting for an organisation to try and expedite their journey to Agility. Taking a big bang approach to becoming Agile, particularly when it comes to your people, has risks for any organisation. In this blog, we outline an approach that addresses the challenges we have witnessed with big bang adoptions and provide a way forward with a set of principles that can be used to guide the iterative and incremental changes required to maximise Agile success.
“The road to Agile is not a transformation that happens overnight by restructuring your people (an approach we would not recommend), but is rather a progressive change that should be approached in an iterative manner – both organisationally and culturally.”
Despite how mature and technically advanced our IT teams are when it comes to Agile ways of working, it’s critical to have our business on board to realise full benefits. By involving our business teams upfront, this ensures solutions are designed and structured in a way that can be delivered incrementally. Given Agile provides many benefits to our business stakeholders, it’s often hard to understand why they don’t want to adopt this way of working. A recent experience put into perspective some of the business concerns with Agile ways of working which were generated by a perception issue.
“It’s important to understand the way of working in context to what the organisation was trying to achieve at the time.”
Being Agile isn’t as simple as following one single methodology. In fact, Agile encompasses a number of different practices and frameworks, often referred to as “the Agile umbrella.” For an organisation to be successful in adopting Agile ways of working, it requires the right technique/method to be used to address the problem or need.
Do not be afraid to try, learn and adapt practices to your situation. When it is contextually applied, a framework or selection of practices from multiple frameworks will be best suited.