Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Agile or Hierarchy?

Recently I've been reading about SCRUM and Agile methodology and the uses of it in large organisations. No, I'm not talking about software development but in terms of whether the organisation can adopt this methodology as a culture.

Let me explain. Typical companies are hierarchical. Top-down approach is the norm and as a result, you have to go through several layers just to get approval to start a new project for example. Agile methodology will help to streamline this process and make the time-to-market more efficient.

For example, let's say you have several product lines. You can have product managers in-charge of the different products and they report directly to the CEO or Assistant CEOs. These product managers will hold the role similarly to the Scrum Masters, accountable for removing impediments to the ability of the team to deliver the product. The product team itself will be cross-functional and there's no such problems such as this my scope of work, that is your scope of work, etc.

The example given is for a technology company but there's nothing preventing this to be applied to other types of organisations. The advantage of such a set-up is that the goal is so much clearer to the team, and most importantly, it's a shared goal. It flattens the hierarchy so any changes or problems will and can be reflected earlier.

This does have its drawbacks. The team members have to be cross-functional and that by itself means that there may be difficulty getting such skill sets, and retaining them. However, you can't eat the cake without buying it. It's like project management. Cost, Schedule, Resource is linked like a equilateral triangle which affects the quality. You give some, you lose some. That's life.

So far I've not yet worked in such environments. Pity.

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