Dean Gingell, managing director of a web analytics firm, writes for The Mandarin about what it will take for Australian agencies to become more innovative and agile — per the directive of the new prime minister. Gingell provides an overview of the Agile philosophy and how it works (or doesn’t) for large agencies.
“[Agile], with its adaptation to the environment and experimental approach, can be used in government because it goes very well with digital. With so many technologies that now work together more easily than ever and the imperative to deliver government services more efficiently and quickly, this switch to Agile methodologies using digital technologies is driven by interest from the top and necessity from the bottom.
Most importantly, an agile approach is much more likely to succeed than more traditional methods, as large IT projects conducted under these approaches have a well-known, fairly dismal track record in governments and other large organisations.”
. . .
[The Agile] approach is very different to the traditional hierarchical and top-down, directive approach employed by large organisations. It is effective because it empowers teams, and those teams become increasingly productive and happier as they gain experience.
Of course, the flipside of this approach can be tensions within an organisation’s usual hierarchy by Agile peer-based teams typically ignore the opinions of “hippos” (the highest paid people in the room) in favour of focusing on the customer.”
After pointing out some of the issues that face large organizations that try to implement Agile, Gingell lays out some success metrics that can help:
Good Agile teams are egalitarian — hierarchy is flat and people are treated with respect, regardless of how they’re employed (e.g. permanent or contract). Most importantly, hippos don’t dominate.
Teams are co-located (although I have experienced successful Agile teams that are geographically spread using tools such as Skype for communication).
Learnings are rapidly incorporated each sprint and over time velocity (productivity) improves as people get used to working with each other efficiently as the methodology of Agile is observed.
Stakeholders are strictly managed through a single product owner so that the team is not pulled in multiple directions at one time.
There are metrics to optimise to measure real business success and learnings (i.e. not “vanity metrics” such as page views of a website which don’t lead to action)
People know their roles and are eager to contribute and optimistic.
Read the full article: What will it take for government to truly become agile? | The Mandarin