Connecting team and strategic planning in agile organizations

In Agile, Agile Coaching, Agile Planning, Coaching teams from forming to performing by chuzzeteLeave a Comment

Connecting team and strategic planning in agile organizations

Within the past 4 month, I’ve been working within an IT Operation division in a financial institution in Montreal, particularly with the people who work to support the production environments for the rest of the IT organization.

It has been a challenging and interesting experience, where I have been able to test, once again, my hypothesis about how crucial is to keep the business connected with IT, in order to help modern organizations succeed.

Observations

What I have noticed, is that not matter the type of work a team does, there is always a need to have visibility over the following areas:

  1. Things that are coming up next (upcoming iteration for example)
  2. What is in the pipeline (Medium Term – at least the upcoming 3 months)
  3. How things are progressing at every level (team and organizational level)

Challenges

Everyone has its way to keep things visible, but I have found that:

  • Keeping teams in sync with what the business wants at a fast pace, is extremely difficult and hard to keep on doing it.
  • Keeping stakeholders informed, regarding what is next on the team’s pipeline, could be extremely costly and demanding for the team and Product Owner/Managers specifically.
  • Keeping managers informed to enable them to make the right decisions and support their teams at what they need the most, is complex and sometimes impossible to accomplish.

How do I do to help teams and organizations with bridging the gap?

It’s all wrap up in the following picture:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Put into words, here the activities that I do, to help with connecting both sides:

  • High level goal oriented/target condition strategic road mapping exercise with Upper Management (Represents IT Vision)
  • 3 month goal oriented/target condition Team’s Road mapping exercise with PO(s) (One x team)
  • Foster strategic goal revision in a periodic base between decision makers
  • Enabling communication at every level through agile ceremonies
    • At the Sprint planning by inviting the PO to share and communicate the Team’s Road map with the team
    • At the Sprint Review by inviting the PO to share upcoming sprint goals, following what has been expressed through the Team’s Road map
    • On Backlog refinement sessions, by inviting the PO and team to focus on refining only what would be targeted in the Team’s Road Map as goal.
  • Using the Qualitative Cost of Delay to help teams and stakeholders get in sync about goal’s/target condition’s priorities.

Still a work in progress

Here is what I’ve found have been more challenging, when implementing the framework above:

  • Keep PO’s and stakeholder interested into talk periodically.
  • Keep PO’s bringing Team’s Road map to the team and stay open to be challenged.
  • Keep track of goal progression when there are more than 2 teams involved.
  • Move away from the physical version of the team’s road map towards an electronic version that could be shared across the organization.

What do you think?

All I have mentioned within this article is based on my own experiences, and even if it seems to work (I have used with 10 teams from different domains, size and cultures), I would love to hear from you, how do you do it, so help me out by sharing your experiences with me and I would love to give it a try.

Thank you for your help and for being there to make my journey a better one.

References

Jesus Mendez, Forming Agile Teams (6) Levels of Planning + Experiment

Black Swan Farming, Qualitative Cost of Delay

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