Agile and Lean Software Development: Mastering the Art of Change


and lean takes wisdom, passion and courage, a desire to be better and openness, especially to change.

Based on a survey conducted by Version One in 2008, distributed to 80 countries and the returned 2,300 responses (see Figure 4.0) the top two barriers to being agile and lean are the a bility to change organizational culture and a  general resistance to change.


  Figure 4.0 – Barriers to Becoming Agile

Unfortunately, available evidence shows that most organizations can become agile but that we often make terrible mistakes when we try because we simply are not prepared for the transformational challenges. This is so because most agile transformation efforts fail to realize that becoming agile is a reengineering, re-strategizing and cultural renewal effort. As a result the most overlooked aspect of being agile and lean is effectively dealing with change.

So what can be done? Here is what I have seen work.  Start with a vision or roadmap (see Figure 5.0) that is embraced and realized [3] by the entire organization from the top down and bottom up.


Figure 5.0 – Roadmap to Being Agile and Lean

Always keep in mind:

    • The what, why, and how of agile and lean product (system-software) development is not mine or one person’s vision alone; to become reality it needs to be a "shared" vision
    • There is no one-size-fits-all agile and lean product development process
    • Delivering early and often, giving ourselves the best opportunity to beat the competition to market, realize revenue and discover insights that we can use to help us improve

Next one must be keenly aware being agile and lean has its roots in William Deming’s [4] Plan-Do-Check(Study)-Act (PDCA) quality improvement cycle, as depicted in Figure 6.0, which is all about planning a little, doing a little, inspection, adaptation and iteratively and incrementally improving.


Figure 6.0 – William Deming’s Quality Improvement Cycle

In fact PDCA is at the heart of the Scrum framework. What makes the difference is when the individual, the team and the enterprise internalizes and then externalizes that being agile and lean is all about repetitively checking how things are going and adapting to change.

In conclusion the first requirement for change is having the strongest intention to do so, deeply wanting to change and being able to see the big picture. It is all important to recognize we need to accept that the world is constantly changing, and we are a part of that change.

We have to be ego-less, to make new choices and let go of thoughts, emotions and actions that aren’t helpful. It takes a commitment and awareness to acknowledge that change must come first from within and then do something about it. The individual and the team need to rally around and believe in what they are doing and share a willingness to start doing something together resulting in operational or commercial value in a world of uncertainty.

One needs to accept you can’t control everything. I think we all know this at some level, but the way we think and act and feel many times contradicts this basic truth. We don’t control what the entire organization does, and yet we seem to wish we could.

Most of the time we can’t even control everything within your own little sphere of influence — you can influence things, but many things are simply out of your control. So as you are faced with the many things that we cannot control as you walk down the path of agile software development, we need to accept that, or we will constantly

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