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Video

Will Poindexter: Agile Is Not Enough

Bain Partner Will Poindexter addresses how to overcome three major impediments to rapid innovation.

  • November 12, 2018

Video

Will Poindexter: Agile Is Not Enough

While Agile is a powerful tool, Agile development teams often run into impediments that can slow down progress. Will Poindexter, who leads Bain's Agile Innovation practice in the Americas, discusses how technology organizations can reach their full potential by improving their management of architecture, talent and products.

Read the transcript below.

WILL POINDEXTER: Agility has become critically important for companies to rapidly innovate and meet changing customer demands and emerging trends. And when applied to software development, teams can actually get new products and services to market very rapidly. But in our experience, these teams start to actually run into impediments that slow down progress. And while agile is very powerful, it's not enough to solve these issues. To have a truly effective modern technology function, organizations need to address these speed bumps to help agile software development teams reach full potential.

The first impediment is rigid architecture, which slows the speed at which you can add new features and functionality to the market. Change one piece of the code here, you're likely to break something over here. Now, there are a number of ways to address these problems, everything from adopting modern architectural principles like APIs and microservices, to replacing legacy technology. The challenge is understanding where to actually invest for greatest ROI.

The second impediment is poor talent management. Companies have overleveraged themselves by using third-party resources for technology capacity. Meanwhile, their internal talent has actually atrophied. This needs to be resolved by rebuilding that muscle, by aggressively and proactively doing recruiting with more focus on engineering skills.

The third impediment is the failure to adopt a product mindset. Many organizations still organize software development around time-boxed, discrete projects. But digital products and services have an ongoing life cycle. Adopting a product management mindset realigns software development activities around this life cycle and creates end-to-end accountability for business outcomes.

Some organizations try to adopt agile, and they run into these speed bumps and conclude that agile just doesn't work in their organization, and that it must be something reserved for digital natives. In our experience, that's just not true. And while it's not a quick fix, investing the time and effort to address these speed bumps can unlock the full potential of the technology organization and really reset technology performance for the future.

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Agile Is Not Enough

By addressing architectural rigidity, closing talent gaps, and adopting a product mindset, leaders can realize agile’s power.

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