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Issue with Big-Bang Agile Transformation

Most Agile Transformations start off as bing-bang implementations spanning across multiple years. Most transformations result in a lot of heartburn and a loss-of-focus since no tangible result get achieved in a short term. Thus the budgets for transformation get consumed quickly and then the questions about “what results you have achieved from running the transformation?” get asked – eventually budgets getting pulled off or clipped.

Designing Transformation Sprints

A good to way to conqueror this can be to design the transformation as a series of “transformation-sprints” which together deliver the large enterprise “transformation-vision”. Each sprint individually delivers at least a small, tangible piece of that large goal. Success is always sweet. When success is achieved in incremental manner, the teams get confident and also the leadership develops confidence that the money spent is put to good use. My experience is that these sprints should not be too short. They should be one month long. Generally one month is a good timeframe for getting tangible results.

Use Scrum Events and Artifacts for Inspecting and Adapting the Transformation

I suggest that these sprints follow the scrum events and artifacts. It allows the team to collaborate in a structured manner.

  • A Product Backlog with improvement items in it which are ordered makes a lot of sense. It is usually a good idea to use Themes or Attributes since the teams working on these items are many.
  • A Sprint Backlog is a short-term plan which has to be achieved during the month. Each team should decide its own Sprint Goal and should have a own Sprint Backlog
  • Sprint Planning for one month should be used as described by LeSS framework – i.e. divide Sprint Planning into “Sprint Planning 1” and “Sprint Planning 2”. Sprint Planning 1 is an overall Sprint Planning. Sprint Planning 2 should be for individual teams to plan their own Sprints.
  • Daily Scrum for individual teams to sync for 10-15 minutes everyday makes a lot of sense.
  • Sprint Review is the most important event which presents the results achieved to the stakeholders. Stakeholders who are spending money for a initiative would be keen to know how their money is being spent.
  • Sprint Retrospective to improve the next month makes a lot of sense again since the transformation itself is an improvement initiative. My advice is that one should do 2 levels of retrospective – one internally and one externally.