Agile 12 Step - Step Two - Establish a Clear Vision & Strategy
Step two is to make certain you do not hide from reality. Setting realistic expectations as to what is about to happen and why is critical to the success of your Agile Adoption. Make certain every executive, manager, director, and sponsor are aware of the problem you are trying to solve and why you have selected Agile as the key.
The step most often overlooked is creating visibility into where we are going. In the Agile Manifesto this was referred to as responding to change over following a plan. We need to not hide anything and work with all key stakeholders to establish a clear vision & strategy. The vision should focus on why we are adopting Agile and what our expectations should be with regard to rolling this out to teams. The most common hurdle here is the vision is not clear. When the vision is not clear, the strategy to execute the vision becomes pointless.
A solid Vision and Strategy leads to success in step two of the adoption process. One other common hurdle I see often is the use of buzzwords to make managers excited about the transition. Don’t get me wrong, I would love for every manager to have a crystal clear understanding of the Agile process. Reality has proven that the moment you engage in explaining Agile in a way that does not focus on terms that the sponsor and or manager are comfortable with, this is the moment it fails. It is critical to be able to explain what is going to happen in terms that are reasonable to all parties involved.
One additional point of clarification may be that the worst way I have seen to execute step two is to purchase a book for the manager or executive. One thing to consider, they got to the position they are in now by achieving excellence in execution, not by reading books. In other words, rather than rely on hope that someone will read, or that they will fully understand what they just read, we should make every effort to focus on reality.
Keep it simple. Use terms that are easy to digest. Implore solid listening skills. Answer questions honestly. Learning to point out features and benefits without being overbearing may be a challenge at first, but achieving success in this step is truly priceless. People all over are counting on you delivering something of great value. It is up to you to make this happen. It is up to you to execute. It is up to you to set the standard and stay true to the course you have selected.