The start of a new year can be an ideal time to commit to change, not only at an individual level but also at an organizational level. For many software development teams, setting goals like increasing productivity or establishing a faster time to market is not only admirable, but often within reach. But like any New Year’s resolution, making change stick is where the true battle begins.
Driving change across an organization, whether through Agile Transformation or the like, begins with taking the right steps toward achieving a positive business outcome. The organizations most likely to succeed often follow these three steps.
Step 1: Recognize the Problem
For many software development companies, problems can manifest themselves in several ways, like missed internal or customer commitments, unpredictable software release dates or a decrease in product quality. Customers become quickly dissatisfied (and in some cases jump ship to competitors) and it may even be difficult to find a client that can be used as a reference—ouch!
Teams that succeed in driving change look to gain visibility into the depths of these problems. They’re also adept at isolating areas for improvement, enabling a seamless flow of findings and sharing their methodologies with other internal teams so they can leverage what has already been accomplished. Once the problem has been identified, only then can you begin establishing the best practices to move your organization forward.
Step 2: Champion Change
Often, one change agent just isn’t enough. To drive true change, there often needs to be an company-wide commitment driven by change champions. These champions make positive change exciting and infectious. Invariably, as the company starts to see the needle move forward, this drive becomes even stronger.
These “change champions” will be those who can provide a strategic view of change, along with a roadmap to implement it.
Step 3: Understand That Problems Don’t Get Solved Overnight
Organizations that succeed in effecting change quickly understand that it’s never just one part that needs improvement. From individual development teams to project managers and top leaders, must embrace the new way of doing things. A great way to get started is to add simple modifications to processes -- Start with one team, one behavior per iteration. This will allow the team to understand the change, provide feedback and take credit for the results.
True transformation is not linear but circular, and the most successful organizations are those that can embrace the concept of continuous improvement. General Eric Shinseki’s famous quote ‘If you don't like change, you’re going to like irrelevance even less’ is truly compelling. Today, as disruption and innovation abounds, most companies cannot afford to stand still. And when you’ve finally succeeded in making these strides, don't forget to seek the next level of excellence and pass the expertise along to team members to enable this continuous loop.