Module 6 - AgileSHIFT Practices
The course is part of this learning path
The AgileSHIFT practices are broad themes which should be applied throughout any work being done using an AgileSHIFT approach. They should be used flexibly and appropriately for the organization and the work being undertaken. They should also be used according to the AgileSHIFT principles.
The objectives of this course are to provide you with and understanding of the five AgileSHIFT Practices and what they mean:
- Engage stakeholders
- Build collaborative teams
- Plan to be flexible and adaptable
- Deliver iteratively and incrementally
- Measure value
The target audience for the AgileSHIFT qualification is any employee of an organization that intends to adopt AgileSHIFT. This includes people who will become champions of the new working practice and employees from any part of the business who will contribute to the incremental improvements that will make up the wider change the organization requires.
There are no specific pre-requisites to study the AgileSHIFT course or for entry to the examination.
We welcome all feedback and suggestions - please contact us at email@example.com to let us know what you think.
We’ve just seen that the AgileSHIFT principles describe what it means to be AgileSHIFT and reflect the fundamental attitudes and behaviors that underpin successful change.
The AgileSHIFT practices work alongside the principles as broad themes which should be applied in any work being done using an AgileSHIFT approach. They’re about how you work.
In AgileSHIFT, a practice is ‘an aspect of working in an agile way that should be addressed continually’.
The five practices are:
Build collaborative teams;
Plan to be flexible and adaptable;
Deliver iteratively and incrementally; and
They should be used in a flexible way, appropriate for the organization and the work being done, and be used according to the AgileSHIFT principles. Let’s go through them to see what they mean.
As we’ve seen, a stakeholder is any individual or group that influences or is affected by the processes, services, products, work outcomes or value created. As an organization grows in size, they can easily lose sight of the importance of stakeholder engagement and fall into the trap of focusing only on internal issues and preferences.
Engaging closely with stakeholders is a core practice of working effectively in AgileSHIFT.
Here’s a framework for a simple engagement cycle. Each step should be considered but these are only the suggested activities – whether you go through each stage or straight to the ‘Engage’ stage is up to you.
But be careful – engaging stakeholders doesn’t mean managing them, putting them where you need them to be or asking them to think differently. It’s about collaborating with them to make the product or service better and to respond to customer’s needs more effectively.
Build collaborative teams
Organizations are often structured as groups, or silos, of like-minded and like-skilled people because individuals work better like this. The problem is that this approach can prevent interaction with the people in other parts of the organization.
Cross-functional and collaborative teams that span silos are vital to agile working and co-creating value across the whole organization. Collaborative teams in flatter, non-hierarchical structures help to motivate individuals and optimize performance.
In an environment where teams successfully collaborate, team members need to:
Take personal responsibility for their actions;
Be open and honest – keeping lines of communication open, listening to others and making themselves heard;
Trust and support other team members; and
Recognizing sometimes that the needs of others should take priority over what they’re doing.
Collaborative teams rely on an environment in which individuals feel empowered and motivated to achieve better performance. There are three primary factors that lead to better performance and personal satisfaction:
Autonomy – our desire to be self-directed;
Mastery – our desire to improve; and
Purpose – our desire to make a contribution.
There’s a link in the Resources Guide to a short video that explains more about these factors and is well worth a watch.
Empowered and motivated individuals will identify opportunities to increase the value of their outputs and work towards these. This means that managers must delegate authority to individuals they trust, who must then use that delegated authority wisely.
Plan to be flexible and adaptable
The first point to make here is that planning is essential. Lack of planning creates the risk of failure; good planning will provide better overall results and shorter development time.
The problem comes when plans are treated as fixed statements where tasks must happen at specified times for a predicted cost and defined level of quality. An AgileSHIFT approach is different – plans are treated as a general view of uncertainty around which actual events occur; they aren’t rigid or fixed and it’s accepted that they’ll change.
Detailed plans can take time to change so plans need to be flexible and adaptable. High level strategic plans work for longer-term, large-scale work and more detailed plans are needed for short-term activities.
Spending an appropriate amount of time planning makes sure key tasks aren’t missed, helps to prioritize tasks, provides the basis to estimate work, identifies risks and mitigating actions, and helps to communicate the direction to stakeholders.
Deliver iteratively and incrementally
You’ve probably felt the pain when a major change project is defined and delivered by a ‘specialist’ change team without involving the other groups affected by it. And then takes ages to get implemented. As you know, this doesn’t fit with an AgileSHIFT approach.
AgileSHIFT is about iterative ways of working where frequent deliveries – or increments – are made of outputs that can be used. This means that early delivery of value is provided to the customer, feedback is received, the risk of delivering the wrong thing is reduced, and stakeholders are confident work is progressing because they’re engaged in the process.
Through this approach, work is performed in clearly defined periods of activity – known as stages, phases or iterations depending on the delivery approach used. At the start of the period the work to be delivered is agreed, progress is observed, feedback is received, plans are revisited and approval to continue is requested.
An iteration describes the time period and an increment describes the delivery itself. So, an increment is the story of value so far.
The value chain illustrates how the co-creation of value is the ultimate goal of any activity. So, measuring value is critical to indicate the impact of the change.
There are five steps to measuring value:
Determine the value expected from the work;
Understand the current level of value being achieved;
Plan how the value achieved will be measured through the delivery and implementation of the change;
Monitor the value throughout the delivery and implementation of the change; and
Regularly record and reflect on progress achieved, changing direction where required.
Too often, value’s only monitored after the change is implemented – this is too late and generally ignores the ‘before’ state, meaning that value and success can’t be accurately measured.
We’ve seen in an earlier video that value is ‘the benefits delivered in proportion to the resources used to acquire them’. So, benefits must be identified, described, planned and measured.
Benefits are ‘the measurable improvement resulting from an outcome, perceived as an advantage by one or more stakeholders’ and they can be measured by:
Precisely describing them;
Defining the observable outcomes – the differences before and after the change;
Identifying where the benefits will occur and who is accountable for them; and
Establishing how and when the change will be measured (before and after it’s implemented), and how progress will be tracked and measured.
Before you move on, why not try the AgileSHIFT Practices reflective activity to help you think about how they can be adopted in your organization.
You’ll also find some useful case studies and examples of how the practices have been applied in the Making it Real guide. And take a look at the video on motivation in the Resources guide.
About the Author
Tony has over 20 years’ experience in Business Development, Business Change, Consulting and Project/Programme Management working with public, private and third sector organisations.
He has helped organisations to design and create process and procedures to align ways of working with corporate strategy. A highly motivated and detailed solution provider utilising a wide range of methods and frameworks to provide structure whilst promoting creativity and innovation.
As a confident and self-motivated professional with excellent communication skills Tony is able to bring people together and get them working as a team quickly.
Tony is an Agile and Scrum trainer with a vast knowledge spanning IT Systems, Business Change, Programme and Project Management. With excellent presentation skills and a solid background, he ensures that all clients gain maximum benefit from his training. He has successfully guided those new to the industry through their initial training, helped experienced staff as they progress in their careers and worked at Director level advising on best use and practice, as well as tailoring courses to fulfil the exact needs of clients.