My company transitioned from a classic waterfall to Agile for a three important reasons. 1) Prioritizaion and focus, 2) Transparency and communications and 3) Team development
1. Prioritization and Focus:
One of the foundations of Agile is the backlog. Managing, or grooming the backlog, forces decisions as to what activities are going to deliver the most value. Often the idea of the prioritized feature backlog is convoluted with the idea of an MVP. This is because an MVP is the only possible result of time constrained Agile project.
2. Transparency and Communications
The Agile routine of daily standups, sprint planning and sprint reviews create a culture of transparency. However it’s the EAT and EMS that have the greatest impact. It’s in these meetings that the teams have direct interface with leadership to get direction, receive feedback and ask for help to remove impediments.
3. Team Development
Possibly the most challenging aspect of using Agile for hardware development is it requires distributing key product decisions to the Product Owners. As the company’s Chief Product Officer I was very uncomfortable with the idea of losing control over decisions. At first there were often conflicts between myself, the Chief Product Owner and Scrum Team Product Owners. However, what Agile demands is a change of POV from one of waterfall’s command and control to one of mentoring and training. The goal is to launch a successful new product, because Agile distributes decision making the only way that will occur is if everyone empowered is making the best decisions for the company. That can only occur if every decision maker is working at a high level of skill and insights. Of course not every team member is skilled and experienced as leadership is. This demands that leadership focus on mentoring and training in order to bring everyone up to their highest levels. Of course sometimes team members have limitations, and this is where Agile also lays bare which team members are not peforming to the company’s needs.