These days you talk to any technology business they are talking about how they follow SCRUM or SAFe or some such Agile buzzword. They religiously follow all the rituals and ceremonies prescribed - daily standup, backlog grooming, retrospectives, and so on.
You ask them why they do it and you get some vague answers like - everyone else is doing it, OR our management wants us to follow AGILE.
Let's take a step back and ask why an organisation would want to follow agile. The answer is very simple. It is to be able to:
Respond to Change as Quickly and Effectively as possible!
Now if that's the goal, then the question becomes, How do you do this?
I think there are 3 key components to this:
"Listening" to what is happening in the marketplace
Analysing what is happening and planning on the best course of action
Implementing that action as quickly as possible to learn and iteratively improve
When you implement SAFe or SCRUM or Kanban in your product development teams, you are only doing part of what is required (#3). Which is why you will often see agile product teams working on 1 year roadmaps which don't change!
In order to get the full benefit of a product team that's agile, the business needs to be agile as well.
That's where I think product management has a strong role to play, since product managers decide what the engineering teams work on.
Product Managers must act as the glue binding all of this!
They need to "listen" to what is happening and work with relevant stakeholders to decide on a course of action. They must then work with the agile teams to deliver.
In order to "listen" to what is happening, you will need to look at both qualitative and quantitative inputs.
Qualitative inputs would come from relevant stakeholders such as customers, partners, operations teams, marketing teams, sales teams, support teams and so on.
Quantitative inputs could come from your operational metrics, industry reports, feedback surveys and so on.
There are teams which collect this data and are agile in their development methods. The mistake they make is that the analysis and plan of action is not socialised. so when you implement it, critical stakeholders are surprised. This results in challenges in product adoption!
When in doubt about what it means to be Agile, refer to the English meaning of the word!
If you think your organisation is not as agile as it could be, give me a shout and I would love to have a conversation to identify opportunities to increase your agility.