Let’s face it, change is hard.  Whether you’re a project manager or a CEO implementing major changes to your organization is difficult.

There are usually two types of obstacles.  One is institutional. Organizations have a certain momentum.  Making changes requires you to slow or stop the business-as-usual mindset along with all the typical documentation and approval requirements that currently exist.  The other is human, getting people who are used to doing things the same old way to accept and use new processes.

Bringing Agile to Your Organization

As project leaders and team members, we are all trying to get to the same destination on our projects —successful outcomes and happy stakeholders.

However, not all projects are the same. Different projects require different methods.

That’s why Agile is a necessary skill set to have in your toolbox to stay current and deliver results. Let’s begin by focusing on the human aspects of an agile implementation and gaining acceptance.

9 Essential Steps for Agile Implementation

1. Establish the Need

Gain consensus on why the change is needed.  Qualify and assess the organization.  Analyze and document the current problems and shortcomings.  Capture previous stakeholder complaints, issue logs, and post-Morten problems.  Keep it read, but if there is a burning platform from which we must move forward, document it fairly.  Determine the business benefits and describe where we are now.

2. Create a Vision

Describe a better state. Outline the goals and objectives we are aiming to create.  Unite everyone with a common goal of what success would look like.  Describe where we want to be.

3. Form a Change Coalition

Identify key stakeholders.  Get people involved on the initial project and the advisory and review boards.  Provide mechanisms for general input and information exchange.  Use websites, lunch and learns, etc.  Be civil, humble and nice.  Do not assume or give the impression that the change team has all the answers.  Ask people how we should get there.

4. Communicate the Vision

Provide a clear outline of what is going to happen. People generally need to hear things five times in five different ways to ensure it sticks.  Use different formats, analogies, and styles.  It is generally impossible to over-communicate a change initiative vision. Plan and promote the organizational changes.

5. Encourage Employee Participation

Make sure people are involved.  Schedule follow-up sessions and speak to people about their concerns. Ask for volunteer reviewers and give praise and thanks for reviews, especially if negative.  This is the opportunity to turn people around while the resistance is relatively low.  Work on forming good relationships.

6. Plan For and Create Short Term Wins

Identify the initial project.  Schedule some early, small victories to build momentum, demonstrate progress, and reassure sponsors.  People only trust for so long.  So, give them something to justify their continued support.

7. Provide Rewards and Incentives

Change on top of a regular job is a lot of extra work.  Reward contributions as much as organizational norms will allow.  If you can’t give bonuses, plan great food for lunch and learns.  Give good mementos and freebies or arrange for time off if teams work hard on initial projects.  People must see benefits in taking part, otherwise they will not bother.  Goodwill, loyalty, and corporate benefits do not cut it with everyone.

8. Consolidate Improvements

Make sure the successful changes get repeated.  Document the successes and spread the word.  Monitor and perform mid-project retrospectives.

9. Institutionalize New Approaches

Complete and review the initial project.  Measure and promote the business benefits and get the sponsors and users to promote the benefits.  Identify the next project and broader roll-out plan.  Make changes stick by institutionalizing them.  Make them part of the standards and culture and support other groups trying to repeat the process.

Learning More About Agile Implementation

Now you have the nine steps the rest should be easy, right.  Clearly that is not the case.  The above is an outline of the work that has to be done to integrate agile in a workplace.  The above describes the “what.”  The “how” is for further posts.

If you can’t wait for those posts, might I suggest that you look at RMC’s suite of agile products to assist you in implementing agile project management in your workplace.  To get an excellent foundation in agile implementation check out our Agile Fundamentals Comprehensive Guide or our Agile Fundamentals eLearning course.

We also have Beyond Agile for a more in-depth look at agile for seasoned project practitioners, PMOs, and business representatives who high-value delivery guidance.   Additionally, we offer PMI-ACP Agile certification prep if you want to pursue an additional certification.