In my previous post I discussed about why organizations should not be in a rush to implement Agile without understanding its true purpose. In this blog I will talk about the need for an Agile Vision.
In order for an organization to adopt Agile there needs to be an Agile Vision - organization, product or process. However, "Vision" is often abused in no uncertain terms. The most common (and inconsequential) vision statement is "Our vision is to serve customers while maximizing stakeholder value and provide a work-life balance to all our employees."
This is poppycock!
What is Vision?
Let us try to understand what "Vision" truly is or ought to be.
- Agile Vision must be short and precise.
- Agile Vision must be a single target not an aggregation of multiple disjointed sets of ideas.
- Agile Vision must be results oriented.
- Agile Vision must have a Visionary.
- Agile Vision must have a sponsor to unify, communicate and promote across the organization.
- In most cases, the visionary and the promoter are the same person.
Agile Vision plays an important role in bringing the organization's agility to life: It acts as the overarching goal guiding everyone involved in organization's Agile Development. Equally important is the organizational strategy, the path chosen to attain the Agile Vision. The absence of a shared vision and strategy, in all probability, will cause chaos and often leads to misdirection, and the chances of creating a High Performance Organization are rather slim.
An elevator pitch means several things to several people. At the core it is a communication tool; it helps in articulating the organization's Agile Development message. An elevator pitch is also a sales tool; it helps raise the money, and close deals. Most importantly, an elevator pitch is a teaching tool.
Executives must have an elevator pitch for both internal and external audiences. The internal audience must be motivated by the elevator pitch. The elevator pitch for the external audience must be designed to kindle curiosity. Additionally, and just as importantly, it is designed to not overwhelm the audiences with too much information.
Agile Vision Statement
After a cohesive Agile Vision is created, it must be documented. Collaboration is the key to avoid confusion and disagreements. Without a vision statement, it's very easy to skip the disputed portions and end up with an unsatisfactory product. The Agile Vision statement will help the organization maintain and promote its agility. It will be a tool that will enable discussions on Agile Vision and serve as a touch point to remind stakeholders of its importance.
One must bear in mind that the Agile Vision statement should be a living document: the executives should review it on a regular basis and make improvements. However, as a fundamental statement of an organization's agility, it may not change much.
The Agile Vision statement needs to address three main points:
- What the organization will accomplish with this?
- How the organization will measure agility?
- What are the Organization's success criteria?
In most cases the main vision parameters include the following:
- Maximizing returns on investment
- Speed to Market products or services
- High Performance Organization Fostering a culture of cooperation and collaboration
- Customer Satisfaction through involvement
Promoting the Vision
The vision needs to be evangelized on a frequent basis. It must be communicated to both internal and external stakeholders regularly. The visionaries must be an integral part of this phase.
Roles for Agile Vision
There are many roles that play an important role in bringing alive an organization's Agile Vision. Being a shared vision, the various groups of people within the organization must be included in coming up with a cohesive Agile Vision and promoting it. At a minimum the following roles will be necessary for promoting the vision:
- Product Manager
- Product Owner
- Product Stakeholders
- Scrum Masters
- Agile Team
- Agile Coach/Mentor
Make sure that all key stakeholders - internal and external - have the final copy of the Agile Vision statement. Regardless of the project and/or product, everyone must refer to the vision statement throughout the life of the project/product.
It would be a good idea to revisit the Agile Vision statement periodically to make sure the products and projects reflect the marketplace and support changes according to the company's needs.
In my next blog in this series, I will talk about the metrics that can be used to measure Agile success.