How to Pick a Strategy for Agile Transformation in Your Company

How to Pick a Strategy for Agile Transformation in Your Company

Changing a company’s processes to boost productivity and make it more agile can be tough. From start to finish, there are a thousand questions that you need to answer about purpose, tooling, training, implementation, and so on.

We’re not going to talk about all of the tactics at the moment; they will vary widely from company to company anyway.

But there’s a whole strategy behind how you want to create your agile transformation that changes the fundamental nature of how you want to approach the process. Here at unito, we’ve got thousands of people signing up for our service every month. We talk to hundreds of them, and we’ve seen every kind of agile transformation project you can imagine. We learned that the fundamental strategy differences can be summed up with a single question:

Do you optimize your transformation for individual contributors, or do you optimize it for management?

Making sure that you’re clear on this question is key to having the result that you expect when you’re finished with the project. Who is the key client here? Management, or contributors? It’s a dilemma. Choosing to prioritize one kind of worker almost by its nature excludes the other.

So which do you choose, and how do you implement it?

Optimize for management if: you have a lot of relatively junior people; need to plan your sprints / iterations on a monthly or longer basis, have more than 8 direct reports per manager, or are adopting new digital work tracking tools but not agile work planning practices.

Optimize for individual contributors when: Your team is more adept at self-management, you are planning on short (2 week or less) intervals, team sizes are smaller and more manageable, or you have an established Agile planning practice.

What does this mean in a practical sense? Let’s take a look.

Choosing a management-oriented tool for your transformation

When your agile transformation optimizes for management, you want to:

  • Focus on ways to delegate work, report on it, and then create feedback loops.
  • Interoperability between teams.  
  • Focus on software that maybe doesn’t have every feature that each team member needs, but it’s broadly applicable to everyone’s needs and its efficient for managers to handle reporting and create feedback loops quickly. Some efficiency at the individual level is lost, but the management team takes the tradeoff between efficiency and alignment as a whole.

You end up with a single source of truth about what teams are working on, and sometimes that’s worth more than any personal efficiency gains.

An example of a broad utility tool which may not appeal to everyone’s needs is something like Trello or Basecamp. They’re one-size-fits-all solutions. For many people, that’s exactly what they need. With plugins, Trello and Basecamp can offer burndown charts and many other ways to review work completion on a macro level, while also offering a simple and useable interface that will work for most needs.

Choosing a tool optimized for the individual contributor in your agile transformation

When you optimize your tool for the individual contributor, there’s a big gain in individual productivity. Your team members all end up using the tool with which they’re most familiar or which is best suited to their specific needs.

This distributes the truth, giving each team member or team better control over how they work. However optimizing tools for individual contributors comes at the expense of putting up SaaS silos between teams and making it harder to keep track of everyone’s objectives & progress.

More specialized work planning tools like JIRA, GitHub, Wrike, and so on, are all good examples of the kind of tool that an individual contributor may prefer to a common cross-company tool. They’re frequently not adopted across an entire organization, but they do the job that they need to for the person who’s using them.

Connect the two worlds together

If you’re working out your plan for an agile transformation and you’re having a hard time deciding between improving management overhead or operational efficiency, maybe it’s time to look at Unito. We help teams achieve the magic quadrant of “management efficiency” + “Individual productivity”.

How do we do this? Unito allows you to create customizable workflows across tools and across teams. This maximizes both individual efficiency in the tools that your team members use, as well as makes it easy to gather all the updates and statuses from many different projects into a single place – for management oversight & alignment.

Have any questions on how to do this? Hit us up and we’ll be happy to show you how! 🙂