We asked our Agile Coaches:
"If agility is the solution, what is the problem?"
And they answered:
The problem from point of customer/consumer is a long time range between requirement and delivery. Agility shortens the time-to-market.
Being an agile organization means being an organization optimized for change. And the problem that needs this is just the always-changing world around us.
Evolution's "survival of the fittest" always meant survival of those that could adapt to changing environments the fastest to get an advantage over those that are slower to adapt.
"Adapt or die out" is the challenge.
Agility is the solution for the problems and challenges of a complex world in which start-to-finish-planning is not just hard, but even impossible. Most competitive markets or at least parts of them are complex today, so working in short iterations, experimenting, and constantly adapting our direction is often inevitable. And that is agility.
The main challenge is to reflect on what type of challenges or problems you are looking at. Are they complicated, complex, simple, or chaotic? (reference: Cynefin framework) For complex challenges/problems, an agile way of working makes total sense, the motto is “probe, sense, respond” and repeat this in short iterations. If you looking at complicated challenges, it makes sense to think about classical project management where good practices help you to find a solution. Referring to the main question, the problem is to find out, which type of challenge you are looking at and then check which way of solving the challenge is the right one.
"The requirements are changing daily, the stakeholders have varying feature requests and the product is extremely complex, what do we do?" would be the question. In a world where being the first out of the gates with a new product is extremely important, where producing a minimally viable product is key to gathering customers and creating buzz, where developing a product can be extremely complex, Agile provides the answer to that question. Adapting to the market, to situations, doing small increments, and focusing on an MVP is the key to success for Agile companies or projects.
As a company, you need to get and keep customers. You need to add value for your customers. You need to deliver the right product. You need to deliver efficiently. You need to adapt to and grow in a changing environment. You need to attract employees, keep them engaged and motivated. You and your company need to learn.
If you fail to do so, your company won't survive. Agile is not the solution. Building a company that is learning, adapting to change, and continuously improving is the solution. But "Agile" provides you with tools to succeed. Lean startup may help you to find a product-market fit. Scrum reduces risk in product development. DevOps increases your ability to deliver. There are more.
In an ever-changing world where the cards could possibly be newly shuffled on a daily basis, it is inevitable to be open to change.
You need to consequently ask the question: are we on the right track or do we need to adapt?
When adjustments in the course of direction are needed, this has to happen fast and in a proactive manner in order to adapt to the circumstances quickly.
Do you find yourself in a complex environment where you are not certain what you have to build and how to build it (Stacey Matrix)? Then Agility is the answer and it will provide you with a toolbox to inspect and adapt quickly.
Agility will support you to have short iterations, create small increments, get customer feedback quickly and adapt accordingly.
About #AgileSeven: We ask every month our Agile Coaches and will publish on the 7th of each month their answers. Why 7? It is a magic number.