Crisp has the luxury of working with small, medium, big and very big companies. We help through providing education. We coach and mentor projects, teams and organizations adopt and master the agile way of working. Last week we at Crisp invited a couple of our clients to participate in a round table discussion regarding agile transformations. The unifying theme were the challenges surrounding large scale agile implementations.
We at Crisp offered a platform and forum to share and learn in a neutral and safe environment. Four companies attended. One to four participants from each company. The participants were directly involved, and in one way or the other, responsible for the agile transformation taking place in their respective company. The size of the department or company involved in the change varied from 300 – 1500 people.
Each company had prior to the gathering submitted a form in which they had stated the major reason for adopting agile and lean. The first hour was spent with an introduction, warm up exercises and presentations of the participants.
The companies had also described and sent in their major challenges as part of the preparation. For example: How do we successfully adopt agile when you have to cope with thousands of systems and hundreds of teams? How do you establish buy-in in the whole organization? How do you create working agile teams in large and complex environments? How do you grow empowerment in the individual and in teams? How do approach slicing of huge requirements to enable multi-team incremental delivery? The questions were big and complex.
Before we started the discussions we zoomed out and reviewed how others are doing by comparing ourselves with the statistics presented in the VersionOne Agile Survey. We all saw a lot of similarities and for many this was comforting. Participants realized that their challenges weren’t unique but instead shared by others.
Review of current challenges
The rest of the afternoon was focused on the presented challenges. Through voting we selected two topics and ran two focused discussion session. They structure of these was something like this: First each company sat together and discussed how that challenge manifested itself in their company. They were asked to write down examples and symptoms of the problem. Then two of the companies presented their case. I, as a facilitator, tried my best to do a graphical illustration as they explained their situation. 20 minutes later we had two versions of the same challenge.
Visualization of presented challenges
Now it was time to discuss and share experiences. Did the other had similar challenges? How had they tried to address them? If we allowed ourselves to think freely, what different approached could one take? Once the discussions were closed (time boxed to thirty minutes) each company summarized what they could bring home. Which insights had been gained? Possible next steps? Then each group shared their notes. After a short break we repeated the process, but now zooming in on the other two companies present.
Participants are deep into discussions…
The afternoon ended with an evaluation and gathering of feedback.
All in all it was an awesome experience. Everyone participated in the discussions and generously shared their own experiences and challenges. The atmosphere were relaxed and prestige less. The participants returned home with new insights, strengthen belief that there is a way forward despite the current challenges.
Thanks everyone who attended! Me and my colleagues are already looking forward to the next round table.