What is Agile Governance?

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Agile is here to stay for some it may look like a fad, but there is clear momentum around the need to adopt a more flexible mind-set when initiating innovation projects, especially in IT and fast moving technology-driven markets.

The Governance SIG is developing a new (slim) guide to 'Agile Governance'. At our 3rd monthly 'sprint' development meeting I explained our approach.

Here is a video of me explaining what we are doing:

The reason we are developing this guide is because organisations may jump without looking or understanding what they are taking on. Additionally, some organisations have jumped on the agile bandwagon and have proudly trumpeted their adoption of the latest thinking without really understanding it or its impact.

Herein lays the key question what is agile? After attending a few recent APM SIG Governance sessions it is clear that agile needs to be seen as a mind-set as opposed to a model. Automated models can help but a great deal of agile is around people (interaction) and ways of thinking not only within the teams but also the board room.

What are some of the early themes to be considered for successful agile adoption and management?

1.Agile needs to be sponsored from the top.A top heavy and inflexible management team, and associated red tape, will not enable successful Agile adoption. Like any major transformation top management must be seen to be behind agile adoption and be able to remove blocks and foster creativity throughout the organisation. It is critical that the role of the sponsor understands their role and demonstrates the core agile principles in their behaviours.

2.Agile means empowerment. Good agile teams take ownership of their work and ensure objectives can be met.Trust and good communications are key for this to succeed. Cooperation and pragmatism are also vital.

3.Agile needs some traditional controls. A bad agile project is equivalent to a bad waterfall project and there is understandable concern that chaos will reign in a flexible-empowered world. Agile projects need to present themselves in ways that everyone can understand (especially for point 1 - top management). Traditional metrics and controls such as roadmaps, value mapping, earned value analysis and simple activity reports are still key to ensure agile projects are clearly visible and can deliver.

It is still early days in trying to map out how we can all manage agile projects more efficiently and effectively, but the basics of agile governance are becoming clearer with each APM session onto the next one!

To get involved in these monthly meetings please register your interest here.


Posted by Brian Wernham on 5th Aug 2014

About the Author
Brian is an APM Board Member, and has been a Committee Member of the APM Governance Specific Interest Group where he has been deeply involved for 10 years. He is co-authoring the new ‘Agile Governance’ guide with Adrian Pyne, and he project managed the 2nd edition of the popular 'Directing Change' booklet, and co-authored 'Co-Directing Change' and 'Sponsoring Change'. He also plays the ukulele, walks the labrador and implements large programmes of work.

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