When we talk about Agile transformation of an organization, 90% of the cases we talk about the Operational part. We start training people, having workshops, defining a way of working and coach them in the first months, till they get a grip on it.
Depending on the size of the organization, such a transformation can take from 6 months to 2 years.
What happens when we’re done with this part?
All the teams inside the organization are trained in an Agile way of working, they all run an Agile process, work in iterations and have small feedback loops. And yet, we feel that there is a pulled handbrake somewhere, we can’t really see it, but we know that this is not the ideal Agile that we can be. We fail to understand where that handbrake is, so we keep on insisting on the Operational part, change from Scrum to Kanban, from Kanban to Scrumban, from Scrumban to whatever combination that we think will remove the handbrake.
Well, the handbrake is not in the Operational part. It’s actually in the rest of the organization. You find yourself now in the situation where you have an Agile Delivery of your product(s) but a pure waterfall approach in the upper levels of the company.
You are following Goals on small iterations at the team(s) level, but the whole organization is doing yearly static plannings and practicing Management by Objective with long feedback cycles and big bets. The value that you get with your Agile teams is constrained by the waterfall Goals that the organization is doing.
You need to stop waterfall-ing your Goals.
Changing the Culture, Strategy and Tactics of an Organization to a truly Lean-Agile mindset, not only Agile Delivery, can be done using OKRs.
Setting OKRs for the whole company boosts the value that you deliver to your customer and removes the handbrake of your Agile Delivery. Having a healthy OKRs organization is complementary to the Agile Delivery that you have in place, it’s not redundant.
Agile comes in 3 waves:
- Team Agility – that’s what you do in the transformation.
- Enterprise Agility- this is where you need to scale you Team Agility, using frameworks like LeSS, SAFe or something custom made that works for your organization.
- Business Agility – this is where OKRs comes into place. OKRs makes your whole organization be Lean-Agile.
Good read on OKRs and Agile is this article: OKR and Agile: Stop Waterfall Goals.