Agile has caught the fancy of the world. It is now a force to reckon with in our rapidly changing business world. Development practices based on Agile have become the first choice of project managers and leaders across thousands of organisations worldwide. Time and again, Agile has proven to be more flexible and effective in responding to change than other, traditional approaches.
Becoming Agile and sustaining it is difficult, yet deeply rewarding. With Agile, customers and stakeholders get the best outcomes as they are engaged throughout in the process of delivering continuous value to the customer. In an environment that is continuously and rapidly changing, it is important that products change quickly to keep up with the evolving needs of customers, and to outpace competition. And being Agile allows for precisely this – quick changes to products. With its focus on users and business value, Agile thinking has lived up to its promise of being the most adaptive development approach in a turbulent and ever-changing world.
Coaches of PM Power Consulting have, over the years, helped many organisations on their transformation journey towards becoming and being Agile. They have observed that this journey, to becoming Agile, is not smooth. There are many pitfalls along the way. Organisations do many things right, but sometimes fall into one of these pitfalls and struggle to move forward. Many organisations have successfully wended on this journey and arrived at their destination. Some have found the journey too tedious and have given up along the way. And, some organisations who have reached there and have become Agile, stay there for a while and then regress.
How do you ensure that an organisation starting on its Agile journey has smooth sailing along the way and a safe haven once it reached its destination? This book is the result of putting together the experience and learnings of these PM Power coaches to help organisations in exactly this. Reaching there and staying there.
This book, The Five Tantras of Enterprise Agility, is presented as the story of one such Agile transformation journey – the journey of an organisation representing many of the organisations that PM Power has engaged with as Agile coaches. A representative coach comes into this organisation about a year-and-a-half into their Agile transformation journey. He is chartered to assess how far and well this organisation has progressed on their Agile transformation. He notes at some of the good things they did, some of the new methods and practices they adopted; how they changed their culture and mindset, their leadership paradigms and their thinking on efficiencies and inefficiencies; how they changed their ways looking at learning and innovation; and how they organised themselves to meet all these challenges; and above all, how they changed their focus to delivering continuous value to the customer. He also notes some of the things that the organisation could have done differently and better in their journey – some amber signals that should have alerted them to a problem ahead.
This book is primarily intended for leaders who are looking to take their organisations on the Agile Transformation journey and managers who will drive this transformation. It will alert them to what they can look forward to and what they need to look out for on this journey. The book is also intended for change agents (coaches and consultants) who help organisations progress on the transformation. The book will add to their experience set that will help them advise their clients in the best possible way. Project / Program Managers, Scrum Masters and team members who are keen to play an influential role in the organizational agile transformation process also will be able to benefit from this book.
The objective of this book is to help these people address the concerns of organizations as they try to reap benefits of moving to Agile – in a specific sense, to address the gap between an organization’s stakeholders’ expectations from Agile (to meet business needs) and their real outcomes and to help the leadership of organizations understand and implement agility at an organizational level (as opposed to agility in teams and projects). The objective of this book is to bring to the intended readers the wealth of experience and wisdom about Agile and its implementation that coaches at PM Power have built up over the years.
The book is written in a conversational style as in our previous book. This makes it easier to read and certainly, to write. The hero coach of the book, Dr Vishnusharman employs a coaching style of conversation to understand what is going on and what needs to be done.
To drive home some of the points, we have used fables, some from Panchatantra, some from Aesop and some from the fertile imagination of the writer’s own mind.
The book is divided into five main “books”. Each of the “books” looks at one Enterprise Agile Transformation Value. These five values are: Focus on Customer Outcomes; Self-organisation; Transformational Leadership; Experimentation and Learning; and Lean Thinking.
In each of these books, we discuss five main aspects (in one chapter each) of internalising that particular value: the process of getting there or getting the value implemented; ensuring the right culture and mindset for internalising this value; creating the right organisation for success in implementing and sustaining this value; the role of leadership in implementing and sustaining this value; and the tools and processes needed for this.
The book is a compendium of what needs to be done, and done right, and what should be avoided, or not done, on the journey to becoming Agile; and after having reached there, staying Agile. The real focus is on being and staying Agile. At the end of each book we give a summary list of the set of “amber signals”, or the things that the organisation should have done or could have done better in their transformation journey. Thus, the book contains both the good practices that can be adopted during an organisation’s Agile Transformation journey and the practices that need to be avoided.
At the very end, the book has a chapter on being Agile in a forced dispersal environment, caused by, for example, pandemics spread by the Corona Virus.
What is it that this book has over other books on Agile? For one, it is based on the experience of many experts in the Agile area. As mentioned before, PM Power Consulting has over 20 experts who have, over many years, coached and consulted with various types of organisations on their Agile Transformation journey. The inputs of all these experts have been taken to arrive at the details presented in this book. In addition, we have talked and discussed with many people outside PM Power, to get their ideas and opinions.
Secondly, this book is not a book on the nitty-gritty of Agile. That is, it is not a ritualistic book that gives details of how to run a scrum, how to hold stand-ups etc. It rather looks at the leadership aspects of being and doing Agile. In fact, as mentioned before, the book is more about “being” Agile, restricting the “doing” Agile part to the basics of getting to “be” Agile.
Thirdly, it is written in a style that is easy to read and understand. These set this book apart from the many other books on Agile.
The following blogs give extracts from the book. PM Power’s Enterprise Agile Transformation Manifesto, Mindfulness for Agile Culture and Mindset – Extract from our upcoming book , Myths to sustain self-organisation in large organisations – An extract from the upcoming PM Power book on Organisational Agility , The role of executive leadership in an organisation that fosters experimentation and learning – An extract from the upcoming PM Power book on organisational agility and Agile, and working from home during this forced dispersal – An Extract from PM Power’s upcoming book, The Five Tantras of Enterprise Agility ]