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Agile Trends Switzerland 2017: We Won

2017 04 02 head

It is time to throw a big party in Switzerland. More than 60% of all projects are now realised using an agile approach (see Agile Trends Switzerland 2017 by SwissQ), Scrum being the most popular one, Kanban as the second one. What a change in just one year. n 2016 we had 40% of projects being agile, one year later we have 60%. Time to adapt and become agile.

It was a long journey. At the beginning of this millennium I was convincing managers that agile is not evil and could be used in Switzerland. And Yes, agile is compatible with Swiss culture - we finally added Scrum to the national methodology Hermes -. The report 2016 patently states that agile projects are more successful for the customer and the company than non-agile ones. It is genuinely time to adapt.

See our previous blogs for the results of Agile Trends Switzerland 2012, Agile Trends Switzerland 2012, and Agile Trends Switzerland 2013. They illustrate the slow gains of agile and lean approaches in our country.

But I have a strong déjà-vu. I am now convincing managers that agile approaches for the whole company are not evil and could be used in Europe and Switzerland. Yes, agile approaches are compatible with European and Swiss cultures. Yes, holistic agile approaches increase the odds of success to deliver tremendous products to our customers. Again I hear the same arguments as 15 years ago why our companies are different and need special approaches.

To ripe the benefits of agile approaches it is now time to transition whole departments and the company. I hope to succeed in the first half of this century.

Below some findings of the study.

Major Hurdles Introducing Agile Approaches

The major hurdles when introducing agile approaches at department/company level are

Current company culture
First change the structure, it enables the cultural change. Quite a few companies try to change their culture without altering their structure. It is doomed to fail,
Existing company structure and frozen hierarchies
It is time to rethink your structure and move decision power to the teams, near to the customers,
Controlling not tailored to agile approaches
It is difficult to be slightly agile. The same can be said about lean. Either you are lean, agile or you are not. Try Beyond Budgeting Round Table,
Overall processes not tailored to agile
Once you change your structure and hierarchy, the processes will evolve,
Trust is missing
Here again we talk again about trust or the believe your collaborators are competent and do their best to achieve success. As an organization and as a manager it is time to decide. Do you truly trust your collaborators?
Customers are not involved or engaged
Customers are the center in the new world. Please involve them, talk to them, find out what they need

You could also say organizations are still struggling with Being agile, not doing agile. Avoid cargo cult.

Our Recommendations

You shall start introducing agile approaches at department and company level.

Senior management is fully committed to the approach and approves the cultural change. Read the book "Reinventing Organizations" from Frederic Laloux to understand the implied changes.

Train your managers to understand agile, lean, and customer centric approaches. And training is not half-day introduction, it is days and days of training, workshops, and reading.

The transition is painful, see the seminal articles of Steve Denning Why do managers hate agile? and More on why managers hate agile.

The principles are

  • Products are value driven and quality oriented
  • Teams are focused to master their work and tools - Craftsmanship, eXtreme Programming -
  • For huge development departments consider using the LeSS approach.
  • Teams work best if you can answer a sounding yes to these five questions.
    • Psychological safety: Can we take risks on this team without feeling insecure or embarrassed?
    • Dependability: Can we count on each other to do high quality work on time?
    • Structure & clarity: Are goals, roles, and execution plans on our team clear?
    • Meaning of work: Are we working on something that is personally important for each of us
    • Impact of work: Do we fundamentally believe that the work we’re doing matters?

If you have doubts please refrain using agile and lean methods. Introducing agile approaches in product development is similar to introduce lean principles in a production environment. Either you do it fully or the benefits are marginal. Worst the best employees will see through and probably leave due to unkept promises.