Joon JungBy: Joon Jung

agile

Over time, Agile practices and concepts have essentially become a cottage industry similar to PMBOK (Project Management Body of Knowledge) with their own established process-centric development methods and tools. To become certified, a project manager would take a PMBOK class to get his/her PMP. In a similar vein, development folks have been taking Scrum classes to get their Scrum Master certification—believing they have become Agile. However, Agile is not just about practicing these new methods or leveraging Agile Development tools (Jira, Confluence, Zephyr), but rather a culture transformation among the people. The vast majority of companies struggle with this transformation because they focus on implementing a rule-based methodology, rather than focusing on the “people” to think and act according to Agile principles.

Transforming an organization takes an iterative approach to culture change and changing peoples’ mindsets. Simply practicing some of the Agile rituals does not automatically make the team or its processes truly Agile. It takes an incremental approach to introduce concepts and practices, followed by early adopters who become “change agents” to promote the new behaviors. Agile transformation is not just about making those changes in one particular department or discipline, but changing the mindset of the entire enterprise.

The benefits of Agile are certainly real since software development teams can deliver quicker, faster results—with constant feedback and continuous improvements. However, this constant feedback and “relearning” goes against established company cultures that have built monolithic systems that require less feedback during the linear “one-way move forward” development process. “Relearning” new methods for many companies requires slowing down in order to go faster. But for many technology departments, slowing down is a luxury they can’t afford.

Last year, EP took on the challenge of implementing Agile across the company. With the initial focus on the technology organization, EP aggressively rolled out the Agile development methods, Scrum and Kanban. What followed was the introduction of Agile development tools including Jira and Confluence. EP also formed teams called “Devsquads.” After establishing the initial operational cadence, we realized that some of the teams needed work in following the necessary tenets. We quickly changed the transformation initiative title from “SDLC” to “Journey through Agile Management (JAM)”—with the understanding that this could be a tough journey for many who would have to unlearn their traditional roles and processes. The emphasis is that Agile transformation is a journey and people are the keys to its success since it requires effort on their part to “change”.

To assist during this transformation, we created a new position called the Technology Transformation Officer (TTO). This person acts as a culture coach for teams, and individuals. The ultimate goal is to engage our workforce through:

– Training and Development
– Measuring and Rewarding Performance
– Communication and Collaboration
– Encouraging Innovation and Agility

A true understanding of Agile change requires intrinsic motivation and trust, and putting people first. We want our people to not just “do” Agile but also “be” Agile. At EP, we are well on our way in this journey.

Joon Jung is the VP of Quality & Agile Transformation at Entertainment Partners.