Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Agile CoE - Getting Started

In my role as a Program Manager I have played the role of a Change Agent at roll-out and post roll-out stages of Agile practice in an organization. I hope to share my experience in multiple posts on various aspects of setting up and managing Agile programs. This post talks about setting up a team of agilists who will sustain Agile, called CoE in common parlance.

After organizations have crossed executive buy-ins and Agile roll-outs across teams, sustaining and enhancing the Agile practice is the next milestone in an organization's journey. A team of agilists who are passionate about implementing agility and look for ways to sustain agility in a demanding work environment can step in to sustain and enhance the Agile practice.

One approach is to invite volunteers from across the organization who are passionate about Agile and don’t need an external push to take on this role of developing the Agile competency. I say developing the competency because there is a constant demand to derive an Agile approach to situations and issues that the Agile teams encounter. Failing to have a go-to forum for Agile queries could lead to teams slipping back to pre-Agile ways. Besides Agile may be blamed for the current issue and a general suspicion towards adopting Agile practices may ensue.

The disadvantage with a volunteer group of agilists is the fact that they are a virtual team moonlighting for Agile. When pressures from their primary role mount then they may not be able to sustain their energy towards the voluntary Agile evangelist role. Another reason could be the “whats-in-it-for-me” – when the entire Agile evangelism is considered pro bono by the organization. Third could be recognition and acceptance of intervention in Agile teams – which could be low in the absence of an organizational recognition of the team of volunteers.

The second approach is to put together a formal team of Agilists who are tasked with sustaining and developing the Agile practice. This team could come up with a creative moniker to move away from any negative connotations of Center of Excellence or Capability Center or Competency Center. Again a frivolous name in a formal culture could water down the effort of the formal team. So depending on the approach that would give greater acceptance, the formal team could choose its name.

For the purpose of this post and others related to the same topic I’d like to stick with CoE since this term seems to be commonly recognized.

Who comprises the Agile CoE?
At least one full-time member, Scrum Masters, and Product Owners

What should the CoE work on?
  • Self-driven approach
  • Engage in a visioning exercise that results in goals and roadmap for the CoE
  • Inspect and adapt
What activities does a CoE undertake?
  • Sharing learning and success stories
  • Training or co-ordinating sessions on processes and tools
  • Connecting with the Agile Community
  • Evangelizing through active blogging and creative meetups
  • Hands on coaching
  • Measuring the value added by the CoE
How long should the CoE exist?
Until the organization believes that there is more to be done in the course of Agility, which I think is a continuous journey of incremental improvements

1 comment:

  1. I too believe that the idea of CoE works especially in smaller organizations that are transitioning into Agile or have just got there. But without adequate support from the top management, such efforts are going to be futile. A formal team is better approach than voluntary service - there is always a lot to be done when it comes to Agile evangelism and you can only do full justice with formal definition of roles & responsibilities.

    Well written article... keep them coming!