Agile tends to be introduced at the team level and it’s the Agile teams who are expected to adopt Agile. While there is various amounts of buy-in from management, some don’t seem to understand that it takes an organization to embrace Agile in order to gain the business benefits. In other words, management has a strong role to play including adapting their behavior, embracing the Agile values and principles, and leading a culture change, in order to gain the business benefits of Agile. It requires significant buy-in to achieve a culture change. But this doesn’t always seem to happen.
Some of this is not management’s fault. Part of the issue is that Agile gets introduced to them is various ways – as a way to improve productivity, as a way to speed up development, as a way to increase quality, but in most of these cases, those introducing Agile to them fail to mention the significant buy-in they need to make. While each of these ways have different levels of merit, it often doesn’t convey enough of a reason for management to motivate a change in their behavior and their organizational culture.
How about changing the message? Though there are many benefits for going Agile, it occurred to me that to get serious executive/senior management attention and buy-in to Agile is to give them a reason that is near and dear to their heart. Explain to your management that Agile can increase revenue—in short, it can help them make money (or more of it). In my experience, this gets them to actively listen, versus the passive listening they may exhibit when they think Agile is an engineering method or something the engineering team and others must do.
Yes, Agile can lead to an increase in customer sales, ergo an increase in revenue. This is all true if the organization is truly allowed to “be Agile”. This means that teams continually demonstrate working software to customers and they are allowed to continually adapt their requirements to customer needs. Then teams can more closely align with what customers find as valuable. The more value customers see in your products, the more likely they will buy (or buy more). Maybe, just maybe, if you convey that Agile can make them more money, they will listen and buy-in to what it really takes.