Baselining and Agile Principles

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Change is occurring more rapidly than traditional management paradigms are often able to accommodate. It could therefore be asked how business baselining aligns with the Agile principles that many businesses see a need to adopt.

The truly Agile business can be said to be driven by change. Consequently they tend to adopt leadership mindsets based on an assumption that people are, in many cases, eager for change. Blockers of change are seen to reduce agility and are therefore anathema to the business.

Agile developments methods such as Scrum or Kanban tend to be implemented at project levels with the Lean Continuous Deployment technique going further still, providing extremely fast and flexible reaction to ever changing business needs.

Agile techniques, to be effective, require tremendous discipline. Too often a business in its desire to be Agile may, in adopting Agile techniques look for the excuse not to do things. Possibly this are the blockers resisting change.

Characteristics of Scrum

  • Starts with desired state or goal,
  • Acknowledges that there is a degree of uncertainty,
  • The Product Owner makes business decisions and has responsibility for the Return On Investment,
  • Create product backlog items supported by user stories including requirements and use cases,
  • Prioritises backlog based on the ROI,
  • Development teams select from product backlog based on priorities to build sprint backlog able to accommodated within the sprint timebox,
  • Development team responsible for making estimates,
  • Lessons learned during a sprint are used to refine future sprints.

Key attributes of the Agile Business

  • Adaptability plus speed of delivery is essential,
  • Responds to short term issues as well as long term trends,
  • Is responsive to change,
  • Has an adaptive operating model,
  • Knowledge Management is proactive,
  • Accountabilities and responsibilities are well defined and understood,
  • Decision makers are empowered,
  • Have strong reusable and flexible processes,
  • There is a culture of information sharing and collaboration,
  • Honesty is paramount.

To succeed as an Agile business it is even more essential that a baselining exercise be undertaken.

Using the Scrum methodology for instance:

  • The goals feeding into the iterative baselining cycle can be finer grained, allowing Agile project development to be better managed.
  • The measurement criteria to be established needs to include those that support the adopted Agile methodology.
  • Assessments of Attitude are crucial as without the correct mindsets Agile development will fail.
  • Capabilities can also be finer grained, being more closely aligned to the Product items in the Product backlog. (Closer alignment can reduce product duplication),
  • The gap assessment can assist in building the product backlog.
  • Satisfactory Aptitude assessments give increased confidence in the ability of Agile development teams to both estimate and deliver each of their sprints.
  • Feedback from the sprints can be fed into the baselining process to better improve the the decision making process and the outcomes of sprints not yet commenced.

Knowledge is absolutely essential when working in an Agile environment. Whilst there is no requirement to know everything the more information easily available the better able are the the decision makers able to decide what needs to be done.

An iterative baselining process and the discipline to apply it can provide that knowledge.

Baselining traditional and Agile businesses both require a knowledge repository from which to draw. This should be created proactively, capturing knowledge when it becomes available so that it may be exploited when required. Proactively building and maintaining the repository maximises (not ensures) that the requisite information is there when needed.

 

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One Response to Baselining and Agile Principles

  1. A good assessment of the requirements of an agile business. Have you read Directing the Agile Organisation – it gives a similar assessment.

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