Introducing agile into a huge organization: where do we start?

Last month I attended an internal training session at work which aimed to introduce agile in our services unit. After 9 months in the company I have started to understand how it works and how difficult is to introduce changes in a huge organization. These companies are quite stable, like a merchant vessel, and time and effort is required to change their course of direction. So I was scheptical about what the guys providing the training would be able to suggest.

Start with the basics

And our coaches started with the basics. There are different layers of elements involved in Agile:

  • Mindset
  • Values
  • Principles
  • Practices
  • Tools & processes

The first in the list are the ones less visible and more powerful. On the contrary, the last one is the more visible but less powerful.

It is very typical to fall into the trap of the tools and practices but not having changed first the essence of your ways of thinking. This leads to false agility. So our trainers were focused in the mindset and values of agile.

Mindset and values

In order to create a change some steps are usually recognized as needed. Sharing and explaining the agile manifesto and its values is the starting point of our journey. Our team has now awareness of what can be done and is able to recognize opportunities to apply these principles.

It is true that the support of our management is needed. It si true that we have many processes and tools that are far from agile. It is true that when projects arrive to us many decisions have already been made. However every individual can do something to be more agile within its zone of influence.

Potential next steps

Now, according to P. Kotter, it would be time to create the sense of urgency and a guiding team that is able to communicate the vision and the benefits of the change. That is the phase to ‘prepare the change’ that should be followed by the change it self and that hopefully would end with a new culture (agile) in the organization. It will require time but we are already on the way.

There is an exciting journey ahead of us. What is your experience? Have you lived this kind of changes in big organizations? Were they successful? What were the keys of success and the main pain points?

Introducing agile into a huge organization: where do we start?