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Does your agility sound good live, or do you need to playback?

11 June, 2021 | Reading 3 min.

Transformación eficaz y flexible
Discover how to achieve an effective and flexible digital transformation

The story goes that back in 1918, after winning the Nobel Prize in Physics, Max Planck toured Germany and always gave the same lecture on quantum mechanics. Eventually his chauffeur learned it by heart and when he had mastered it, he said to Planck: “It must be very boring to give the same lecture every time. How would you like me to take your place in Munich? You can sit in the front row and wear my chauffeur’s cap. That way both of us will have some distraction.”

Planck liked the idea, so that evening the driver gave a long lecture on quantum mechanics to a distinguished audience. After the lecture was over, a physics professor stood up and asked a question. The chauffeur replied, “I would never have thought that someone living in such an advanced city as Munich could ask such a simple question. My chauffeur will answer it”. Dobelli 2013.

The story may not be true, but it illustrates perfectly how the chauffeur was able to play back the music composed by Maestro Planck while without him, he could not face the slightest impediment that might come his way. He was not able to play live.

But how does this impact the digital transformation of companies?

Transformation will be agile or it won’t be

ESpain is one of the best digital performers in Europe. According to the Digital Economy and Society Index del 2020 se sitúa por encima de la media europea.

This means that many Spanish companies are acquiring a great capacity to adapt to the latest technological advances. There are already industries such as finance, telecommunications, services and retail that have been disrupted by the emergence of online commerce, the growth of teleworking, social networks… with the energy, industry, health and infrastructure sectors next in line to take this big step. However, there is another point to bear in mind.

According to the last annual congress held by BAC (Business Agility Corporation) experts in this field from multinational companies conclude that today’s organizations cannot cope with flexible and effective digital transformation without agile transformation initiatives.

The shift in approach from project to product where the delivered value to Business and the adaptation to change take on special relevance, being the key factors of a perfect communication between Business and IT.

However, many companies memorize previously composed songs and do not have the courage or are unable to start composing their own agile melodies in their transformation process.

How to go from playback to live?

There are five key problems that make it tremendously difficult to stop playing the old waterfall tune and tackle a live agile scenario.

1- The lack of digital talent within the organizations often means that the leaders of these initiatives have little experience in managing with this methodology. According to a research done by Appirio, 90% of companies are facing a great challenge in recruiting professionals with digital profiles. Furthermore, according to the same study, a 25% of projects are abandoned due to a lack of IT resources.

2- Capaibility: It is not only the lack of digital profiles that many of the large organizations that expect their leaders to have all the star qualities suffer from, but the lack of control of their circle of competence and lack of experience.

Nowadays there are hundreds of certifications, webinars, articles, etc., that provide knowledge that is necessary, but should be complementary and is often understood as absolute. It is not enough to know the lecture by heart; it is only through experience that you really get to know the implications that certain management methodologies bring along with them.

3- The value contributed to the business is quantified subjectively through the History Points. History Points are a unit of measurement that allows estimating the effort involved in the implementation of a backlog element according to its size and complexity.

This unit of measurement was established to improve communication between Business and IT, however, determining the number of Story Points in each User Story will always be subjective, as they allow estimating effort without trying to estimate how much time it takes to accomplish it.

4- There is a lack of information and indicators for measure the efficiency in order to effectively manage the process of our equipment.

These last two facts inevitably lead us to the fifth major problem of agility.

5- Lack of visibility on the efficient use of the budget. Business, after all, is the one who bears the investment risk since, as we pointed out earlier, project estimates do not take into account time, only size and complexity.

This does not mean that there is an absolute lack of control. In development, teams must be understood as instruments of value in which efficiency is not the only thing that counts. Quality, stability, cadence, commitment or responsibility are equally important factors.

Only by helping the development teams and supporting them in the transformation process, the product delivery can be improved. By highlighting the room for improvement from an objective perspective, the delivery of value that agility seeks will be boosted.