As Fowler has noted, once companies develop the necessary base of technical skills, they can move on to the higher levels of agile fluency. This enables digital transformation, characterized by the “really cool stuff,” like teams capable of monitoring their own outcomes.
That said, any transformation will inevitably face roadblocks and resistance, and will need to be measured, justified and perhaps even restructured based on its results. This raises the question of how enterprises can gauge levels of agile achievement. According to the experts the following are signs of a high level of agility:
The ability to cope with tightening feedback cycles
“(Agile) is not an easy thing to measure, but one of the largest things we’ve looked at is cycle time: how quickly you can get from idea to production,” Fowler said. “The other aspect of this is how rapidly you can learn from things that are happening to generate ideas for the next thing to do.”
The capacity, and confidence, to try and fail
At the later levels of the Agile Fluency™ Model, enterprises are so quick to recognize and act on changes that they essentially anticipate, rather than respond to market developments – giving them more time to test and develop solutions. “You get a great competitive advantage because you’re constantly one step ahead,” Fowler said. “It also means you have the capacity to try six things, accept that five will fail, find out which one of them succeeds and double down on it. That’s where the real promise of agile lies.”
High levels of customer and team satisfaction
The true measure of your success as an organization is that you’re making your customers more effective,” Fowler said. “But another sign is on the people side. Do people get to decide what process they follow? Do good people want to work in your organization because they see you as a leader in the field? Are you having problems with staff being poached to take leadership roles by other organizations, because you’re seen as a great place to have come from? That’s how you know you’re geared to succeed.”
VI. The evolution of the agile enterprise
Metrics such as these need to be constantly examined because agility and transformation are ongoing processes rather than destinations companies can reach, then rest on their laurels. They also show that the parameters by which enterprises are assessed and success defined – many of which date back to the manufacturing era - are due for a broader overhaul. In a traditional enterprise, the focus is on efficiency and the maximum utilization of resources. However, in an agile enterprise, the ability to react to and anticipate change is prioritized.
“Organizing has to be done with a mindset of responsiveness, whether signals and feedback from customers or directives from regulators – and that’s very different than organizing based on cost efficiency,” Mr. Narayan explains. “Efficiency is a big reason companies take on projects beyond their capacity, which creates backlogs, so they start more projects and finish fewer.”
Ultimately these new values, and the enduring longevity of agile as a concept, are based on the recognition that “it’s a very uncertain world and you’ve got to live with that," Fowler said. "Which means you have to switch into this feedback-driven style of working instead of constantly laying out plans. That, together with the recognition of technological skill, are the two real underpinnings of what agile is about.”
By Daniel Pallozzi