9 Steps to Agile Adoption
– a Proposal
Sr. Program Manager and Agile Coach @
McAfee, an Intel Company
While Agile adoption and practice is a complex model for mid/large sized Product
companies to implement, we see a need for some sort of framework that can help
Why do you need to be Agile? Where do you start, when do you start, and also how
do you start? These are questions that reside in most of us during early stages of
adoption. Here is a 9-Step breakdown that will help companies and teams adopt
multiple Agile methodologies in different situations and scenarios. Maturing it from a
‘Persona Perspective’ framework helps the ‘decision-maker’ have a case for
investment, further evaluate if it works, and improve it all through!!
The discussion and idea is just my proposal that should help a team or an organization
and is need not be the only way to implement Agile in an organization. Further
detailing into these phases can form an overall Mindmap structure that is open to
adopting from an organization and people standpoint.
Inputs for the presentation are from practical exposure of the author, his peers/mentors, and
documented practices of Agile Methodologies.
Step 0of 9 Steps to Agile Adoption – a Proposal
• Step 0: Perform Value Stream Mapping to identify gaps within organization
and analyze if one needs to improve these for an organization to succeed having a
vision and goal. At the end of it, do you think Agile will solve your problem? If yes
go to step 1, else check for alternate solutions. If selecting step 1, start working on
future value stream map (where you want to be).
Step 1 of 9 Steps to Agile Adoption – a Proposal
• Step 1a: Create Cross Functional Leadership Scrum Team/s to include
executive leaders from various functions like Development, Quality, Program
Management, Product Management, Finance, HR, Marketing, Sales, etc. General
Manager of the company can be the potential Product Owner.
• Step 1b: An Agile Enterprise Transition team consisting of Business Execs,
Engineering Heads and Coaches (Lean/Scrum/Kanban) to form another virtual
Scrum team (7-9 member team). This team has the sole goal of transforming the
organization to Agile methodologies and they need to sync with leadership team in
their vision and mission.
Step 2 of 9 Steps to Agile Adoption – a Proposal
• Step 2a: Vision Backlog created by Leadership Scrum Team that may be
consist of large Business or Architectural Epics spanning 0.5-3 years (roadmap).
The backlog to also include formation of Agile teams, budget planning based on
ROI, High level capacity planning, etc.
• Step 2b: Similarly create a backlog for Agile Transition Team to include
stakeholder acceptance, training, mentoring, coaching, implementation
strategy, dashboards, publish ‘success’ stories, work with other departments like
Step 3 of 9 Steps to Agile Adoption – a Proposal
• Step 3: Segregate projects into:
Innovation Projects -
Explore Lean Startup
as a possible option
for new product
you are not sure of
what and how of the
product, but have a
Projects - Explore
Scrum for feature
projects where you
pretty much know
‘What’ is needed.
- Kanban can be the
way to go for
inflow and outflow
are unknown and
hard to plan for.
Step 4 of 9 Steps to Agile Adoption – a Proposal
• Step 4: Build small sized Lean Startup teams (5-7 members) and give them a
Vision to go and invent. Build basic Proof of Concept (POC), run it by Alpha users to
get early feedback. If the measures show substantial interest from users, consider
moving the POC to Feature Incremental team (Step 5). Lean Start up teams go back
to innovation pool (outside office boundaries) – working typically on 3-6 months
on one idea.
Step 5 of 9 Steps to Agile Adoption – a Proposal
• Step 5: Migrate to Agile Scrum either with ‘one trial team’ approach OR
entire business unit to Scrum. Both approaches have positives and negatives. Hire
(initially may be for some positions) or train interested members as Scrum
Masters, Product Owners and Mentors. In parallel, identify capable Scrum of
Scrum Masters. Build Program/Release level backlog (owned by Product
Management team and Architects). Run Scrum. Run Scrum of Scrums or SAFe
Step 6 of 9 Steps to Agile Adoption – a Proposal
• Step 6: Most importantly plug in Extreme Programming (XP) practices like
Pair Programming, Continuous Integration, Automation, TDD, Refactoring, etc. to
succeed in Scrum. Engage Release teams, Localization (translation), Security and
other shared resource teams to Scrum teams as needed.
Step 7 of 9 Steps to Agile Adoption – a Proposal
• Step 7: Build Kanban teams for Sustenance requirements. It can be used for
operational tasks as well. Team can prioritize on daily basis and limit Work in
Step 8 of 9 Steps to Agile Adoption – a Proposal
• Step 8: Celebrate TRIUMPH of successful Agile adoption and reward teams!!
This is an incentive for next set of teams to migrate. Share metrics and practices to
inspire other teams and leanings from ‘what didn’t go well’ is invaluable data.
Learn and adapt.
Step 9 of 9 Steps to Agile Adoption – a Proposal
• Step 9: Move organization to a flow that is sustainable and teams produce
more Value than in the past (through periodic customer feedback). Continuous
Improvement is a MUST (Kaizen). Endure to identify and fix organization/project
level impediments, track risks and dependencies with mitigation plans. At any
given point, Company should aspire to be as ‘Lean’ (no wastage and highly
productive) as possible.