Dr. Israel Gat: Comparative Analysis of three Agile Transformations in a Company, March 16th 2017

Abstract: A systemic difficulty in comparing Agile transformations across different companies is that they rarely conform to the requirements of a controlled experiment. Differences, such as the nature of the business, the way a company configures its resources to generate value, and the way it governs the Agile process, can easily render a comparison pretty meaningless. While enlightening, the lessons from a single case study in a single company are not easily applicable to the realities of another company.

This presentation draws upon three business unit transformations the author carried out for a F500 client between 2009 and 2014. Each of the transformations was independent of the others and encountered its own particular challenges. However, all three transformations exhibited a remarkable level of contextual similarity. It is this contextual similarity that enables the author to provide an “apples to apples” comparison of the Agile transformations across the three business units.

Hindsight clearly reveals that small variances in the implementation of Agile led to dramatically different outcomes over time. In particular, biz/dev alignment emerges as the #1 determinant of success in the three transformations, eclipsing all other dimensions of implementing Agile at scale. Unless a satisfactory alignment is attained, an Agile transformation is not likely to reach the “escape velocity” (to use Geoffrey Moore’s metaphor) required for freeing software development from the pull of the past.

Learning Outcomes

  • How to differentiate the nuts-and-bolts of Agile from business unit/corporate level aspects
  • How to use organizational structure to support the Agile rollout
  • How to drive the Agile rollout through judicious use of metrics
  • How to handle layoffs that coincide with the Agile transformation
  • How to align bottom-up Agile processes with top-down corporate processes
  • How to balance supply (i.e. team capacity) with demand (i.e. business needs)

Presented by Dr. Israel Gat

israel_gat_bwDr. Gat’s executive career spans top technology companies, including IBM, Microsoft, Digital, and EMC. He has led the development of products such as BMC Performance Manager and Microsoft Operations Manager, enabling the two companies to move toward next-generation system management technology. Dr. Gat is also well versed in growing smaller companies and has held advisory and venture capital positions for companies in new, high-growth markets. He was presented with an Innovator of the Year Award from Application Development Trends in 2006. Dr. Gat focuses his consulting and writing on technical debt, large-scale implementations of lean software methods and agile business service management (“devops”). His recent e-book, The Concise Executive Guide to Agile, explains how the three can be tied together to form an effective software governance framework.

Dr. Gat holds a PhD in computer science and an MBA. He is a member of the Trident Capital SaaS advisory board and a Fellow of the Lean Systems Society. In addition to publishing with Cutter and the IEEE, he posts frequently at The Agile Executive and tweets as agile_exec.

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