Matt has been involved with the Agile transformation in the Digital Product Platform (DPP) right from the start. 18 months on, he believes Agile provides the foundation for future success.
Over the last 18 months, we’ve transitioned all DPP colleagues into Agile. The pace has been challenging at times – especially at the start when we were organising our teams into Agile Squads for the first time. We’ve reflected on this and recognise we need to improve the support we provide for people. We know we need to communicate and engage with people more, as this is a big change journey we’re undertaking.
Listening to our people and their experiences of Agile – good and bad – is important, as we need to learn and continue to improve how we do things. A quarterly Agile Employee Engagement Index survey (EEI) has therefore been introduced, enabling us to formally capture people’s feedback across Agile Engineering Squads. We’ve also hosted “Ask Me anything” sessions with our Leaders, where people can ask questions and share their views more informally.
Having an Agile mindset is essential for our business to succeed. Although it comes naturally for some people, others may need more time and support. Agile emphasises interaction and collaboration rather than focusing on processes, which will change our culture. Other changes include getting used to the ceremonies, and adapting them to suit the team, understanding the different Agile roles and language, as well as being more transparent, collaborative, and empowering our people. It can be a lot to digest, but we’re all working together to keep learning and evolving every day.
As we roll out Agile beyond Engineering, we all must share our experiences and learn from each other. This will help us understand what is or isn’t working, and avoid duplicating effort, and reinventing the wheel. We also need to keep progressing with cross-functional teams and empower them to deliver our business goals. One way we’re doing this in DPP is by implementing ‘Ceremony Connectivity,’ which looks at how the ceremonies are designed and interact. This will help us achieve a consistent cadence and enable clearer decision-making at all levels.
Communication and knowledge sharing has improved since we adopted Agile. Ceremonies such as the Daily Stand-Ups encourage more transparency as they bring everyone together. Our Squad also spends time having ‘Friday Fun,’ which builds team spirit as we check in with each other to see how everyone’s week has gone. The Retrospectives also encourage us to celebrate our achievements and reflect on what we could have done better. Receiving more regular feedback from stakeholders keeps our prioritised Backlog more closely aligned with the overall needs of the business, while more recognition keeps people engaged and motivated. We can’t expect everything to be perfect straight away – what’s important is that we keep learning, iterating, and moving in the right direction.
As a Product Owner my role is to collaborate with the Squad to agree on our priorities, then enable them to decide how best to achieve them. Having more ownership of their work, rather than being told what to do, is more satisfying for the Squad. And because we have more open conversations, and everyone’s encouraged to have a voice, we generate more ideas - which helps to solve problems more easily.
As a business, having an Agile mindset enables us to respond and adapt to customer needs more quickly. Similarly, when our Squads have told us things aren’t working, we’ve been more receptive to their feedback and implemented changes more readily than perhaps was the case before.
To make Agile stick in the long term, we need to share our understanding of the Agile Principles and apply them consistently across the business. As we embed Agile across the business, I think we will continue to learn, become more aligned and clarify the roles. For example, the Scrum Master role is critical for Agile to be successful, but this isn’t always recognised. Our Reward and Recognition processes also need to evolve to support our new Agile organisational structures – placing more focus on teamwork and collaboration, rather than on individual performance.
Overall, I’d describe Agile as being transparent, iterative, and collaborative. If you haven’t yet started Agile working, try giving it a go. Pull on other people’s experience and ask lots of questions – it’s all about learning together.