Unquestionably, larger organizations struggle to embrace agile methodologies, particularly when attempting to grow their existing or create a new one. When building product-company alignment, Product Owners and Managers perform a considerably better job than software devs, QA specialists, and analysts. For companies like this, establishing an agile Community of Practice (CoP) can be quite valuable.
Why establish an agile CoP?
Your motives may be similar to others. However, like with any process or framework, you must evaluate why from your perspective and uniquely use these ideas to achieve your goals. It’s vital to build an agile community for the following reasons:
- Bringing together people from various technological and educational backgrounds to foster natural partnerships and the sharing of personal success stories.
- Everyone is making an effort to educate and enlighten one another.
- Influence and voice: Everyone in the organization should be aware that by proposing new ideas or questioning existing ones, they can impact how any department functions.
- Curiosity, questioning, and problem-solving discussions with peers can help people improve their proficiency.
- Culture: The act of having a once-month meeting like this increases communication and collaboration among teams that would not otherwise communicate with one another. It also allows for a more open approach toward learning and experimenting in general with a closer look at agile and iterative techniques.
How an agile CoP should flow
A CoP is the starting point for a new community concept, and it terminates when community members consider the organization has met its objectives or no longer offers value. In addition, CoPs have a life cycle, much like other living organisms.
A CoP meets regularly to discuss common concerns, grievances, and reform ideas. As a result, there may be a backlog of testing targeted at correcting the issues generating dissatisfaction. As the experiments are worked out in preparation for their initial execution, a number of these talks turn into working sessions. The findings of these investigations are reviewed at a later meeting to determine whether tweaking is required or whether a new experiment is required to address the issue at hand. Thus, every CoP meeting serves as a feedback loop for the organization, allowing it to improve and expand.
New procedures, enhanced processes, new tools, new configurations, and a solid basis for future expansion are a priority of discussion and action. The resulting outcomes can then fuel various agile clubs and knowledge bases.
However, leaders should not impose communities; instead, those in charge should be permitted to govern them independently. Managers will continue to play an essential role in ensuring that the community’s needs are satisfied and that employees have ample time to participate in community activities.
Many businesses are seeking to use agile to address an issue, but there is no silver bullet.
In my opinion, the most significant way to begin an agile transformation is with individuals who are willing to volunteer. Find them, gather them, and then decide amongst your members the best course of action. First and foremost, patience is paramount. Your organization may not see immediate benefits, but the ultimate outcome will be of such high quality that you could never have imagined it at the outset.
Still, volunteering within your organization might be a complex issue to overcome. In what way? Perhaps there are only a dozen or so persons in your company who were unquestionably the most ardent agilists. ScrumMasters and managers often already interact with other agile enthusiasts who have already assembled to discuss the issue. With the assistance of this team, you can confirm that all of your essential platforms, projects, and programs are adequately covered. These are the leaders in the agile community. If fruitful, you won’t have to go through an interviewing process to add or remove members.
Types of agile CoPs
Two more sorts of teams have close ties to agile CoPs and membership overlap:
Teams: There will likely be work groups inside your company dedicated to carrying out some or all of the CoP’s work tasks. For example, you may have a team dedicated to supporting and enhancing your company’s digital transformation strategy. You may utilize any CoP to help others improve and share relevant abilities and skillsets.
R&D Centers: A CoE’s role is to give leadership and strategically spread the knowledge they’ve gathered through time throughout your organization. Unlike a CoP, a CoE is typically founded by a paid organization whose members are solely responsible for full-time coaching, teaching, and mentoring individuals. Internal employee certification through CoEs is another option. Centers of Excellence (CoEs) are frequently formed to assist specific initiatives (such as agile transformation) for a limited time before disbanding. When a CoE’s official financing expires, CoPs may fill the hole and serve as the in-house CoE.
Take these steps to create your first agile CoP
Members are empowered to choose the type of contacts and frequency that best fit their requirements because CoPs are informal and self-managing by nature. Meetings, lunch gatherings, webinars, and social business platforms such as Jira, Slack, and Asana are examples of other formats. During the operating phase, members of a CoP participate in frequent retrospectives, similar to those used by agile teams, to improve continually. The primary goal of the core team is to maintain a healthy CoP, which they do by:
- Keeping things simple and casual.
- Developing trust by ensuring a swift flow of information and a shared understanding.
- Increasing the CoP’s collective knowledge base Individual CoPs will eventually become obsolete.
The next stage is to take the following steps:
- Invite existing role practitioners to a kick-off session to offer context for the endeavor. Make it a point to explain why this agile community exists at this meeting.
- Encourage your communities to take ownership of and accept responsibility for their tasks and the link between their work and those of other agile positions. If the manager has organized a team, share the job’s vision with them. ScrumMasters from diverse agile teams may form CoPs to share techniques and experiences in building high-performing agile teams. Topic-based communities may also become more common as CoPs acquire power and engagement.
- Figure out what’s causing any current issues while using an agile framework for practice. Retrospectives can provide this knowledge. Most individuals list things they want to talk about, so getting started is typically easy. Make the most of this opportunity to air your grievances while also establishing trust within your new CoP.
- Make pain a priority and a valued topic. Remove everything from the list of pain points that aren’t directly related to a job product or activity. You can prioritize the issues by asking, “What topic is the most relevant right now?”
- Establish a rhythm to set the tone for the meeting. Allow yourself to be guided by the things that are essential to your community. Although regular meetings may be crucial to address critical and pressing concerns at first, monthly or quarterly gatherings may suffice once the community has begun to address these issues.
- Identify who will represent you. The members of that community should choose the delegate for each agile CoP.
- Maintain a steady focus on what is essential. Each value challenge is approached by first determining if any process adjustments are necessary. Notify all practitioners as well as other agile CoPs of any updates.
Begin by making an announcement and providing a quick explanation of the fundamental concepts of your agile CoP. Also, consider writing an “agile mission statement,” which you can repeat at the start of each meeting. Any follow-up action items from earlier discussions that resulted in a change would also be included in our announcements. Further, inquire whether the group has anything to share from previous sessions regarding what they’ve learned, what they’ve done with it, and any short success stories.
I hope you can use these ideas to start an agile CoP at your organization. Don’t hesitate to get in touch with us at Ascendle if you have any questions.