, , , , , , , ,

Recently I read somewhere, that I should make notes of what I read and review them from time to time. I decided to give it a try, since I read a lot and I think making such notes will be for me a way of remembering best ideas, quotes, or whatever from my books and magazines. I also decided to share those notes with you, in edited form as some have gotten pretty long. Just as a note – in many cases I copied whole passages without noting the page numbers, which is against good reference practices, but of course I will list title and author of a book (or article) where I got the notes from.

I do that with hope that at least some of you will reach for mentioned magazine or book when you will find my notes interesting. Ach, one more thing: small number of notes do not mean that the book or magazine was not good…

This is what I found interesting in Harvard Business Review, May 2016 issue:

Article “Embracing Agile” by Darrell K. Rigby, Jeff Sutherland, and Hirotaka Takeuchi.

[…] By taking people out of their functional silos and putting them in self-managed and customer-focused multidisciplinary teams, the agile approach is not only accelerating profitable growth but also helping to create a new generation of skilled managers.

[…] When we ask executives what they know about agile, the response is usually an uneasy smile […] But because they haven’t gone through training, they don’t really understand the approach. Consequently, they unwittingly continue to manage in ways that run counter to agile principles and practices, undermining the effectiveness of agile teams in units that report to them. These executives launch countless initiatives with urgent deadlines rather than assign the highest priority to two or three. They spread themselves and their best people across too many projects.

[…] Innovation is what agile is all about. Although the method is less useful in routine operations and processes, these days most companies operate in highly dynamic environments.

[…] we have discerned six crucial practices that leaders should adopt if they want to capitalize on agile’s potential.

  1. Learn How Agile Really Works

[…] It comes in several varieties, which have much in common but emphasize slightly different things. They include scrum, which emphasizes creative and adaptive teamwork in solving complex problems; lean development, which focuses on the continual elimination of waste; and Kanban, which concentrates on reducing lead times and amount of work in process.

Rest of this point provides a short description of what scrum is… very useful to read it in whole.

  1. Understanding Where Agile Does or Does Not Work

Agile is not a panacea. It is most effective and easiest to implement under conditions commonly found in software innovation: The problem to be solved is complex; solutions are initially unknown, and product requirements will most likely change; the work can be modularized; close collaboration with end users (and rapid feedback from them) is feasible; and creative teams will typically outperform command-and-control groups.

  1. Start Small and Let the Word Spread
  2. Allow “Master” Teams to Customize Their Practices

[…] If a team wants to modify particular practices, it should experiment and track the results to make sure that the changes are improving rather than reducing customer satisfaction, work velocity, and team morale.

  1. Practice Agile at the Top

Some C-Suite activities are not suited to agile methodologies. (Routine and predictable tasks – such as performance assessments, press interviews, and visits to plants, customers, and suppliers – fall into this category.) But many, and arguably the most important, are. They include strategy development and resource allocation, cultivating breakthrough innovations, and improving organizational collaboration […]

  1. Destroy the Barriers to Agile Behaviors

Research by Scrum Alliance, an independent non-profit with 400,00-plus members, has found that more than 70% of agile practitioners report tension between their teams and the rest of the organization. Little wonder: They are following different road maps and moving at different speeds […] Here are some techniques for destroying such barriers to agile:

  • Get everyone on the same page (also those teams which are not working using agile methodologies – RC).
  • Don’t change structures right away; change roles instead.
  • Name only one boss for each decision. People can have multiple bosses, but decisions cannot […] Other senior leaders must avoid second-guessing or overturning the owner’s decisions. It’s fine to provide guidance and assistance, but if you don’t like the results, change the initiative owner – don’t incapacitate him or her.
  • Focus on teams, not individuals.
  • Lead with questions, not orders.

Excellent article summarizing what agile actually is and giving good examples of its application not only for software related projects, but also across all organizational levels. Well worth reading in whole – if I could, I would copy it whole here 🙂 The main take away, next to some handy definitions and explanations, is the fact that agile is proven to work in software industry or IT, and now is on the way to transform other industries or functions. As article states in last sentence: Those who learn to lead agile’s extension into broader range of business activities will accelerate profitable growth.