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FCW : May 30, 2016
18 May 30, 2016 FCW.COM Agile flexibility, the leader’s job in this envi- ronment is to set a clear vision and ensure that teams continue to move in the direction that brings this vision to reality. Although tactics might change along the way, the leader must keep the team focused on the original vision and the problem the team is trying to solve. • The leader’s next job is to ensure that every individual feels empowered to make decisions in service of that vision. Roundtable participants referenced the idea of “commander’s intent,” a military management tenet that ensures all sub- ordinates understand the operation’s purpose and what constitutes success. When used effectively, it grants every- one the ability to make decisions, and they do so based on the intent put forth by their leaders. That piece is crucial because leaders are not involved in every step toward execution. • To ensure success, executives can- not disengage once the execution phase begins. Effective leaders stay embedded in the work of their teams, reiterating the vision and goal and making deci- sions about strategic adjustments along the way. • Leaders must address obstacles that get in the way of their team’s ability to deliver. That means working with busi- ness partners in procurement, human resources and operations to clear the path for successful outcomes. Transparency and stakeholder engagement • Government programs and initiatives often have broad and complex stake- holder groups, and effective engage- ment of those audiences will yield a stronger end product. • From Day One, agencies should incorporate stakeholder engagement and transparency into their approach- es. Stakeholders must be brought in at the beginning of an initiative, not just given the solution at the end. • It is critical to work closely with busi- ness partners on how they can add to success. That means program leaders must educate others about how agile development extends beyond the IT team and what it means to align busi- ness functions accordingly. • To ensure that the solution meets the government’s stringent requirements, security and quality assurance teams should work alongside program leaders to evaluate each iteration of the tech- nical solution rather than waiting until the end to discover there is a problem. • Talking to users or customers regu- larly to gain a thorough understanding of their needs and behaviors is another critical part of finding the best solution. • Transparency must accompany stake- holder engagement. Program communi- cations should include not just success- es but failures and challenges as well. A continuous and open dialogue with stakeholders will enable them to iden- tify new solutions and paths forward and will help continuously improve the process. Procurement and results • Procurement professionals can make or break a program. Effective agile teams work with those partners early and often to adopt agile acquisition methods that provide better transpar- ency, reduced risk and much-needed flexibility. Procurement professionals should be part of the team upfront. The more they understand the requirements, the more effective they can be in help- ing find the best procurement tools to effect the optimal solution. • With the Obama administration’s recent establishment of acquisition innovation labs, the door is open to embrace innovation in this area and push for solutions that align with a lead- er’s vision — all in a safe environment in which different ideas and strategies can be tested. Establishing a council composed of the agency’s acquisition innovation advocates would facilitate the sharing of best practices, successes and even failures. The discussion represented a first step in addressing how to best imple- ment agile management practices in agencies and programs, and the group supported continuing and expanding that dialogue. One idea for consider- ation is the development of an agile management “playbook” that would provide effective practices for the con- stituencies that have an impact on agile development, including professionals in procurement, oversight, human resourc- es and communications. We look forward to joining other government leaders and stakeholders in continuing the journey toward greater agility. n Dan Chenok is executive director of the IBM Center for the Business of Govern- ment. Joiwind Ronen is president of Ethos Strategic Consulting. Dan Chenok Joiwind Ronen 0530fcw_016-020.indd 18 5/4/16 9:22 AM
May 15, 2016
June 15, 2016