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Where there is a will there is an Agile way

Our expert Scrum trainer Peter Horvath has been helping teams working Agile for many years. Here he shares a story from gaming company that trapped in silos and needed the power of Scrum to unleash the potential in the organisation.

In 2016, the successful mobile game company best known for it’s game QuizClash (“Quizkampen”) structured its organization around departments. There were tech, GFX, localization and QA departments and, as with most organization structures like these, value realization became tricky. Also, the pain of belonging to several simultaneous projects was a serious issue for the production teams.

We started to explore an alternative way of working, and landed in Scrum; a comprehensive work method influenced by Agile principles. End-to-end product teams, focus on finishing stories (instead of starting them), and shifting power to the teams quickly became cornerstones in our new way of working. At this stage the company showed great openness to change and that always searching for a better way is in the company’s DNA.

By December, everyone at the company has participated in Scrum and Agile trainings and our new product-based teams were in their third sprint. In order to understand what the staff think and feel, the company carries out recurring mini-surveys. On the latest survey the question asked was:

Our organization has changed for the better with the Scrum implementation?

The results were pretty fascinating

76,6% agree or strongly agree that Scrum is a positive change. Some other benefits we have reached that are not reflected in the survey are:

  • Teams reaching their goals
  • We release the right things quicker
  • We have a better understanding of our capacity and are planning accordingly
  • Team members are better able to influence product features
  • Continuous improvements are followed through

Several people approached me after this and congratulated me on a job well done. This got me thinking. I’ve been teaching and coaching Scrum and Agile methods for several years, what make this transformation so successful? Then it struck me that the company is a young, fast moving company with an amazing ability to immediately change direction. The success of our new ways of working is in equal part due to the company culture.

And so to the take-aways. The importance of a company’s will and ability to change should not be underestimated! I’m not talking about the will of a couple of sponsors or managers. Instead the question to ask is: is it in the company’s DNA to change, and is there actually an ability to change? To be successful in the transformation to Agile you need most people to follow along with the change. This is what happened at this company which enabled us to reach immediate success. I’ve spent a lot of time at companies that didn’t have the will or ability to try something different and that only ended up with me banging my head against the wall over and over again.

There is another interesting aspect of this. Should you work at a company with the will to change but lack the ability to do so, I have some great news for you. We have established that a company’s determination is the most important part in an Agile transformation. If you have that, you can always buy the know-how. As we have, a great Agile transformation can be reached within a couple of months, so the costs can be kept in check. My advice is to give it a try. Without spending a fortune or an eternity, you can also make change that 76% of the workforce appreciates.

That brings us back to the title of this article. In future transformations I’ll spend considerable time to investigate if there is a will to change and if there is, we will find a way!

/Peter

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