We need to do Agile, they say. But what does Agile mean?

It’s been said and done far too many times, where leadership have proposed and mandated an organisational change to DO Agile delivery, as if to say that Agile is a black and white framework (like Waterfall, ITIL, Six Sigma or PMBOK). Whilst we’re lucky to have never heard this directly, we’ve had many people tell me that leadership teams don’t even understand what Agile is, just that it needs to happen.

What does Agile mean? We think it’s a framework

Whilst some would argue that Agile isn’t a framework, in many ways we believe it is. Otherwise, how do you know you’re Agile? There are many differences between traditional delivery methods and Agile. Agile, however, is even more dynamic, in that Agile is made up of a lot of different tools and techniques borrowed from other methodologies/frameworks. For example, the idea of sprints and iterations, the frequent ‘releases’ of code in short development and review cycles is actually based on the concept of ‘Extreme Programming (XP)’. Another is Kanban, developed by Taiichi Ohno (industrial engineer, Toyota), which are the task boards you’ll often find used in many applications of Agile. Many of the techniques underpinning Agile are not exclusively for IT software development, despite originations from this space.

There is a plethora of ways you can DO Agile, but you and every one of your people need to BE Agile to truly succeed in a world of ‘New Ways of Working’. In our article on ‘Agile Transformation’, we touch on this in more detail. Simply put, management teams need to shift focus from DOING Agile, to BECOMING Agile. They must then think about how they bring the rest of the organisation along with them on the rollercoaster of organisational agility.

We understand that BEING Agile means changing the fundamentals of how teams assess, plan, build, deliver products or services, interact with one another, how they do Projects. Agile has a MUCH BROADER meaning beyond software development. At its very core, this is how Agile Management Office have developed a methodology agnostic framework to help organisations better facilitate, integrate, and enable change and governance across an enterprise.

Taking agile in its true definition, being Agile is about being able to understand, adapt, and change quickly in an ever-evolving environment. This, in its simplest form, means that there is no one way to do things. Therefore, you need to be able to integrate with organisation’s existing delivery frameworks, people, processes, technology etc. Doing this enables us to find a balance between the needs of Projects and the Organisation overall.  So how do we do it?

Understand people’s needs / work culture

No two organisations are the same, which means we all have different ways we complete tasks, interpret information, and interact with other people (including management and the PMO). Understanding how people work how an organisation works, where they are in terms of maturity is how we begin our journey. We adjust our interaction profile to match changes in people or working culture.

Understand organisational requirements and aligning to strategy

A traditional PMO focuses purely on delivery functions; be it governance, support or both. At AMO we know that governance is bigger than the Projects & Programs it supports.  Our frameworks enable us to integrate across an organisation strategically. Therefore, we seek to understand the organisation’s objectives, goals, and strategy.

Adjust our methodology accordingly

We then select the most relevant aspects of our methodology to apply, as needed for that situation, so that we can better facilitate and support organisational harmonisation inside and outside delivery. Working to continuously integrate and enable all stakeholders, guiding them throughout the process, helping them to achieve organisational agility.

Continuously adapt & improve

Finally, we know that over time, people, process and technology will change. An AMO understands this and is prepared for this to happen. We’re always at the forefront of any changes to ensure continuity, harmony, integration between project delivery and the business. Working with stakeholders we continue to facilitate changes to meet the evolving demands of business.

Learn what Agile means from our experts – take a look at this LinkedIn post by our CEO Fatimah Abbouchi!