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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:
http://bit.ly/agile-governance-sprint-3-introduction

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!

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  1. Brian Wernham
    Brian Wernham 11 August 2014, 11:58 AM

    Andrew,Thanks for the encouragement - the more we can empower, the easier it will be for teams to (appropriately) self-organise to meet an organisation's objectives without micromanagement.Brian07815 618187Committee MemberGovernance SIG

  2. Andrew Spiers
    Andrew Spiers 07 August 2014, 08:41 AM

    Brian, excellent sumary setting out the landscape for Agile Governance.  It just prooves (once again) the great dictum that "people make projects".  We can have lots of methdology, and process whch looks whizzy and provides a false assurance to those involved taht all is rosy.  we have to get back to ownership - i note you have cited "empowerment" as a key component.  This is a double edged sword; managment have to be mature enough to understand and continually support their people (this is not easy and I persoanlly believe is something that is disappearing), and the individual has to be mature enough to know to do the right thing. Agile governance should be synonymous with "getting back to basics".  Conentrate on simple rules for control, create the right management environment, focus on the people - and let them get on ande deliver!Great initiaitve, Brian, and something that shue be appluaded and taken into "Boardrooms"!

  3. James Dale
    James Dale 06 August 2014, 07:17 PM

    Thanks BrianSome excellent points.  Developing a clear understanding of what agile is and the implications for traditional project governance is really important.  More and more government projects are being labelled as 'agile' but I am not really sure the implications are properly understood.  When things go wrong, as sometimes they do, it is agile that (unfairly) picks up the bad reputation.  I saw a similar scenario unfold with PRINCE2 15 - 10 years ago.  Please can you advise me (and others) when you next meeting is scheduled for and who can attend?Kind RJim