In the previous sections of the Agile Transformations series of blog posts we looked at Critical Success Factors for Agile transformation, as well as Transition Management during an Agile Transformation. In today’s article we will be investigating what is required in terms of Agile Training and Education in Agile Transformations.
Agile Training – Needs Analysis
The departure point for Agile training needs analysis starts during the initial stages of assessing the organization for Agile readiness prior to a Transformational journey, where individuals are interviewed hints are dropped as to where optimization and training could take place. For example “we practice Scrum in our team, but the Business Analysts are struggling to get in the Agile requirements mind set”.
In addition to analysing training needs within the workforce itself, we need to be making ‘owners’ aware of their responsibilities within the Agile organization. On the C-suite level of the organization the leaders need to understand that the system that they have become accustomed to is going to be swept from under them when the agile train arrives. On this level leadership needs to understand that the organization changes from a push system to a pull system, meaning they need to be cognizant of downstream capacity, and not shove work into the machine as they see fit.
The leadership team also needs to understand that all initiatives need to be properly prioritized based on risk, monetization, legal requirements, competitive advantage etc. Their actions on this level will have a major influence on the success of the change initiative.
Customers and ‘business’ need to be educated on how requirements gathering will change going forward. Customers or business needs to identify Product Owners with the help of their Agile coach. The Product Owners are in charge of their product’s roadmap and delivery. The Product Owner and if possible the customer need to become comfortable with ambiguity in high level requirements, with the understanding that close collaboration with the execution teams will guide them to a near perfect (Minimum Viable Product (MVP)).
At this time teams are formed and exhibit qualities of a truly cross-functional team. I.e. each team can consume a user story in a sprint, and take it all the way to a done state. Business analysts, developers, testers, Scrum Master, User Experience designers, architects and Product Owner are all part of this team.
The Scrum Master as Change Catalyst
The Scrum Master’s role in this embryonic stage of Agile adoption plays a crucial role as a change catalyst, coaching team members and business stakeholders on the practices of their chosen Scrum framework. The Scrum Master contingent would typically have guidance from transformation coaches that is steering the initiative. Due to the responsibility of the Scrum Master and Agile coaches or Practitioners, it is essential that these core roles are qualified to drive the change.
In organizations where the Project Management function remains explicit, the Project Management Office would also require training on where they fit into the Agile picture, and how their projects will be executed and reported on. In this space it is especially important to foster a servant leadership mind-set. Command-and-control practices don’t work well with Agile where the entire mind-set is based on servant leadership.
Once all stakeholders, teams, Product Owners, Scrum Masters etc. are identified, we start with the creation of an Agile Training Portfolio. When defining the Agile Training portfolio for the organization, it is good practice to customize training for:
- Process and standards
- Process based training would be applicable to Scrum Masters, Scrum Team members, Architects, Scrum of Scrums, Delivery management, business, Quality Assurance etc.
- It won’t make sense to bore business stakeholders with the technicalities of continuous deployment pipelines, and conversely it won’t make sense to train developers on Product Owner duties. The training needs to be pitched at the right level to the appropriate audience.
- Cultural awareness
- In some cultures servant leadership practices won’t work, and there won’t be any point to try convert an audience like this.
For specialist functions in teams such as business analysis it is required that deep dive training sessions are conducted, where the methods for recording and managing appropriate business requirements in the Agile manner is trained. The same will be true for testers, developers and other roles.
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