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Agile Transformations – Are We There Yet? – Part 2

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Following on from part one of this blog, here we look at how we moved forward to optimise performance, following an enlightening retrospective session.

Starting to motor

The feedback from the retrospective session into what extent we were living the LN ES values and whether that effected performance, revealed a link back to the three basic motivational influencers: Mastery, Autonomy and purpose.

We swiftly moved to resolve these hindrances by first taking a look at the leadership model. The teams felt that they could be more involved in the decision-making process; that communication between teams (despite best efforts) could be sharpened; and, the teams' understanding of external issues was considered – all with a view to improving the teams' autonomy.

What resulted was the MAP (Mastery Autonomy and Purpose) team. With representation from our delivery (Stream) teams and one of our disciplines (Community of Practice), the MAP is tasked with ensuring that the teams can self-direct, that they can get better at the things that matter, and that they understand why and what they are doing as a whole team. Immediately we started to see notable success around:

  • Firming up processes for 'non-product or tech' work requests
  • Engineering-led training to improve quality assurance
  • Implementing agile metrics to track success
  • The ability to more effectively balance resource/skills requests with other on-going work

Even more powerfully, the team has started to discuss the fundamentals of how they 'do work' e.g. suitability of the current team delineation and automation of System Acceptance Testing, an area the team previously felt distant from.

In parallel to this devolution of decision making to the coalface, other broader initiatives have begun, such as the delivery teams taking responsibility for their own budgets (starting with cloud-related costs).

Early feedback indicates that this work is addressing some of the things raised in the values retrospective and will undoubtedly help to improve motivation.

The onward journey

Yet this is only the start. And it is difficult to know whether there will ever be an end to our agile transformation. As a wise sage once said to me, "The agile journey never ends."

So, in conclusion, I'd say that if you think you have made an agile transition by merely changing working practices and team structures, then in reality you have only scratched the surface.

A change in mindset from everyone in the organisation and continuous reflection are essential if your agile transformation is to work.

About the Author:


Paul Jones is a System Architect at Lexis Nexis Enterprise Solutions (LN ES). He is particularly interested in lean / agile ways of working and has played an integral role in the company’s organisational agile transformation to date.

Outside of work, Paul is kept busy with his young family. He also enjoys going to the gym, running and following Leeds United.

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