Agile Enterprise or Bust!

In early May, Valpak’s internal newsletter, Monday Memo, published the following headline and article:

Valpak on its way to becoming an Agile enterprise

Agile workshops have begun and many teams are now using some of their newly learned techniques to help them manage their work. Agile organizations are fast moving, flexible and capable of rapid response to unexpected challenges, events and opportunities to achieve a continuous competitive advantage in serving customers.

Many of the principles of Agile focus on the idea of breaking work into smaller chunks and working on them in a self-organizing team with daily collaboration.

“With all the projects my team and I are faced with this year, we found the Agile approach to managing these projects extremely helpful for efficient planning and tracking our progress along the way,” said George McCarthy (Security & Safety Director) after his team’s recent Agile session.

That’s right! … we are well on our way towards our Agile Enterprise vision.  To date, we have trained about 80% of our knowledge workers (our manufacturing workers apply Lean to produce our famous Blue Envelope).  We have trained Marketing, Finance, Security, Franchise Sales, Infrastructure, BI, Digital Business Development, and more.  In fact, we refreshed training for the software development teams that have been Agile for over 2 years now by including them as resident experts with the other business areas trained.  Oh, and by “we”, I mean Tami Orr, our super awesome Employee Development Process Lead.  This wouldn’t be possible without her.  She self-taught Agile, Scrum, and Kanban and put together a fun and effective training program, not to mention the hours she stands in front of our folks to deliver the training.

I’m sure some of you are wondering about the training program we, I mean Tami, developed for our Agile Enterprise efforts.  While I can’t publish the deck, I can provide an outline of what was covered:

  • What is Agile?
  • The benefits of Agile
  • The Agile Manifesto
    • Brief history
    • The 4 Agile values
    • A deep dive into the 12 Agile principles (some with fun videos and activities to demonstrate)
  • Some Tools & Techniques of Agile
    • Scrum Overview
    • Kanban Overview
    • Kanban activity using a party planning scenario (something we can all identify with)
    • Kanban activity using a project specific to the department being trained
  • Agile in life (not just about work anymore)

“But wait, there’s more!”… Agile is not some “Set it, and forget it!” rotisserie.  This is a never-ending journey.  The Agile Enterprise is a major culture shift for any organization that must be nurtured each and every day, across all departments, and at all levels of the organization.  For us, change is in bloom!  Agile has become so much bigger than ME and I love it!  Business teams are adopting stand-ups over lengthy status meetings.  Rogue Kanbans are popping up left and right for everything from projects to be lead, department workflow to be managed, or even events to be coordinated.  In fact, we had a retirement party just yesterday for a 20 year employee whose wife (who also happens to work for the company) made him a Vision Board and a Kanban board (yes, that’s right … a Kanban Board) so that he could better “manage” his retirement.  Even better, we are having open discussions and healthy debate on topics like value, sustainable pace, empowerment, and simplicity.  I love this new Valpak!

 

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About Stephanie Davis

Stephanie is Executive Director - Enterprise Agility Office at Catalina, driving lift and loyalty for the world's leading CPG brands and retailers.  Most recently, Stephanie was Senior Director of Enterprise Agility at Valpak. She was with Valpak for 13 years, most of which were focused on leading their agile transformation to what became a world renowned success story published in case studies and demonstrated to over 50 different companies through the years via agile tours.  Prior to Valpak, Stephanie held past positions in the project management domain with AT&T and IBM. Stephanie's academic credentials include a BS in Marketing from the University of South Florida and an MBA in International Business from the University of Bristol in England. She also maintains the Project Management Professional (PMP), Agile Certified Practitioner (ACP), and Certified Scrum Master (CSM) credentials. Stephanie is big on tech community involvement!  Most recently, she served as an elected board member to the Agile Alliance, a non-profit organization with global membership, committed to advancing agile development values, principles, and practices. In addition, she serves her local community as an organizer for Tampa Bay Agile, the largest and most active tech Meetup in the area, and the annual Agile Open Florida event. In 2016, Stephanie was awarded Tampa Bay Tech’s Technology Leader of the Year and the Tampa Bay Business Journal’s BusinessWoman of the Year (Tech) and Emerging Technology Leader of the Year. View all posts by Stephanie Davis

5 responses to “Agile Enterprise or Bust!

  • William LaRue

    I read your blog post and my immediate response is “great start, when does the enterprise part start?” I guess that I was anticipating some information about your attempts to coordinate the activities of all these independent efforts. That is the real challenge in all of this; Scrum and Kanban are quite effective when carried out with care, but the layers above the individual team effort is where the system starts to break down. There is a need for an Agile analog to the PMO so that reporting to higher levels of the corporation can be accomplished with efficiency, and so that there can be a sense that things are not just efficiently chaotic and actually do reflect the overall strategic goals of the enterprise. Any thoughts?

    • Stephanie Stewart

      Hi William. We apply SAFe (Scaled Agile Framework) for that purpose. SAFe has given us a good model by which to scale and maintain Agile at all levels of the organization.

      • William LaRue

        Thanks. We are looking at SAFe and other alternatives for coordination at scale; how is SAFe working for you, and what pitfalls did you encounter in trying to stand the system up?

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