Going Agile Is Not a Transformation
February 27, 2018

Going Agile Is Not a Transformation

by Brian de Haaff

Enterprise transformation. I have been writing about it a lot over the last few weeks. And I have been talking with other technology leaders about it even more. It is interesting to hear how so many people view this concept differently. But four words keep popping up when I ask about how companies are changing: “We are going agile.” Huh?

Many companies are describing enterprise transformation in terms of the work — specifically, how the work gets done. This is obviously important since an enterprise-wide transformation often requires a process change. So it follows that companies turn towards agile and lean software development approaches to make this shift.

But this kind of process-driven thinking does not consider all that is required for true enterprise transformation.

I do not want to downplay the importance of changing the “how” of the work as part of any strategy to transform an organization. Speed matters. Companies that do not rapidly bring new solutions to market may find themselves being ignored by the people who matter: their customers.

It seems obvious, but this is why many miss a crucial truth. The goal of an enterprise transformation is to deliver better customer experiences. At its best, going agile simply increases efficiency. You will get somewhere faster, but it is unlikely to be where customers actually want you to be.

So, to end up where customers will receive real solutions — real value — you need to have a clear vision of the future you desire and also a deep understanding of your customers’ desires. Where do they see themselves in the next few years? And what do they need from you to get there? Start there and then figure out how fast you can turn those plans into reality.

Delivering value to customers is important. And moving fast is essential. This is why our team at Aha! practices continuous deployment. We know that our customers want new functionality and product improvements to be delivered weekly (if not daily).

We are able to move really fast at Aha! and stay mostly on target because we focus on customers and what we call the Complete Product Experience (CPE). This approach requires a deep understanding of the journey that customers are on and how customers experience the product and our team from every angle.

Delivering the CPE takes effort. And when big enterprises orient their thinking around the CPE, it often causes a ripple effect across the organization. Every team needs to be involved and clear on the work that needs to be done. It requires an actionable plan and a focus on the key areas that will enable the team to build that CPE.

Transformation is all about improving customer experiences — that is the goal and a clear definition of the ideal state must come first. So start with customers, not your own actions.

Yes, it can be tempting to adopt the go-go, faster-faster mentality — believing that “going agile” is the way. But if this is the only change you make, you might find yourself sprinting towards a dead end.

How have you seen your company transform?

Brian de Haaff

Brian de Haaff

Brian seeks business and wilderness adventure. He is the co-founder and CEO of Aha! — the world’s #1 product development software — and the author of the bestseller Lovability and The Startup Adventure newsletter. Brian writes and speaks about product and company growth and the journey of pursuing a meaningful life.

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