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Joe Arnold's Blog

Founder / CEO SwiftStack

Organizational transitions are hard. It really requires a lot of items to be put in place before any real change can happen. All of them are people related. 1) Risk-taking culture, 2) Leadership, 3) Coaching, 4) Team structure.

1) Risk-taking Culture
The company has to have a environment where people are free to take risks. If people who take risks are punished, the risk takers leave. You’re left with people who do not want to take risks. People who don’t take risks won’t stick their necks out. They’ll be on the far-end of the adoption curve.

2) Leadership
This is tightly coupled with the ‘Risk-taking Culture’. The leadership must at least be willing to sponsor time and training for new methods to be used with the product development teams. They need to adopt the change themselves, but they can _even_ play a wait-and-see role by experimenting with a few teams and see how it goes.

3) Coaching
Coaching and training. Learning new product development techniques is a really big mind shift. In an Agile context everyone’s world changes. Product managers need to be communicating features a lot differently than they had before, programmers need to be accustomed to requirements changing more frequently, QA needs to create more flexible testing infrastructure, user experience experts need to adopt their methods to teams working in iterations.

4) Team structure
There are two environments where introduction of Agile methods are difficult. a) A very large team (split up into multiple, smaller teams) working on a single large product that’s under the gun to deliver on time. Change is hard to manage when a deadline is looming. b) An organization which views their people as resources to get shuffled around every other month to work on new projects. When there are not stable teams, it’s hard for any change to take root.

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