In this episode, Paula Maychruk helps us uncover the key concepts that allow us to be successful with Agile approaches.

After listening to this episode, you'll understand:

  • Why Agile transformations often fail
  • How you can best partner with Product Owners
  • What needs to be true for you to succeed as a Product Owner
  • The role you can play to help your organization succeed with Agile

Show Notes

A lot of organizations have adopted Agile practices but haven’t seen some of the expected results.  There are a few key concepts that organizations miss when transitioning to Agile that limits the effectiveness of the practices.


Key Concept 1: Sponsorship

Any Agile transformation or other large initiative will only be as successful as the most senior person that supports you.  Top down sponsorship and leadership buy-in is key.  Otherwise, teams will struggle seeing the connection between what they’re doing and the organization’s strategy.


Key Concept 2: Vision

Vision is key for creating the mindset shift needed to succeed with Agile.  Whether it’s a vision for the organization or for the project/product, a compelling helps align people to a goal.

Vision is important for helping everyone to understand where we’re going and why.  This contributes to getting buy-in and commitment from the team.


Key Concept 3: Product Ownership

Strong product ownership is an integral piece that allows teams and organizations to adapt to Agile practices and mindset.  It helps you to better understand your customers and connects the team to the value they’re trying to deliver.

This requires seeking out feedback from customers and different parts of the organization so that we can adapt our approach.  Product owners must be able to make decisions and empowered to talk to stakeholders to act on their feedback.

When Business Analysts and Product Owners partner together, the result is often stronger product ownership.  Business Analysts can use their questioning and analysis skills to fill in some of the gaps common to newer Product Owners.


Key Concept 4: Success Criteria

To succeed in Agile, everyone needs a clear understanding of the ‘why’ behind what we’re doing.  Establishing success criteria in a User Story helps the team to understand the value they’re trying to deliver.  The “so that” portion of a story explains the value we expect to deliver.

Strong success criteria also helps us to discover how we will create the expected outcome.


Key Concept 5: Planning

It’s a common misconception that you don’t need to plan in Agile.  In reality, there’s more planning in Agile than in traditional methods.

Agile approaches include frequent opportunities to inspect what we’re doing and adapt our approach.  This means that we are continually planning and making small adjustments.


Key Concept 6: Change Management

To adapt to any change, people need to understand who’s involved in the change effort.  We need to communicate and involve others for a change to be successful.

Everyone on the team has a responsibility to act with transparency and communicate risks and impacts of the change.


Key Concept 7: Culture

Agile requires a mindset shift.  To be successful with an Agile transformation, you need to capture people’s hearts and minds.  You need to create a desire for new ways of thinking and operating.

Processes and tools won’t save an Agile transformation.  In fact, they can hinder this type of change.

Agile requires trust, respect, and collaboration.  We need to create that culture and capabilities within our teams and across the organization.  We want to create a learning culture in which we’re continuously improving and actively seeking feedback.


Listen to the full episode to understand how you can influence these key concepts and be successful in an Agile environment.



Your Homework

Are you more focused on doing Agile or being Agile?  To be successful, we need to connect more with the principles and mindset behind Agile.

Think about the mindset and principles of Agile and identify ways of working under those principles.  Find small changes that you can make to move in the right direction.


Links mentioned in this episode:

  • Get a free audiobook of your choice from Audible
Paula Maychruk

Paula Maychruk

Paula Maychruk has worked in the IT industry for the past 20+ years, ultimately landing in the role of Senior Manager, Project Practices with Sovereign General Insurance where she has been helping to formulate and champion better processes related to the delivery of projects and releases.

Paula has also been actively involved with IIBA and has held Board of Director positions and served as a member of IIBA’s Senior Leadership Team.


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