Agile 5+1 method: implement Agility at scale

Achieving large scale Agility is perceived difficult by many organizations. Agility gets impeded when Agile teams needs to collaborate. As strategic As Agile consultant I regularly receive the question what needs to be done to achieve Agility at scale. The new scientific Agile 5+1 method guides the road to large scale Agility.

Question from practice
Large corporates need to increase their Agility to cope with changing market demand. A recent example is Vroom & Dreesman in the Netherlands. V&D was not able to compete anymore with faster, more innovative competitors.

The Agile manifesto for software development
The need for Agility was recognized by a group of leading software development experts. In 2001 they came together to rethink the way how software was developed. In that time many IT providers tried to develop software in a tightly controlled way. The failure rate of these initiatives was high. Software needed to be developed in a different way. The result of the meeting was the Agile manifesto with four values that were fundamentally different:

  1. Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
  2. Working software over comprehensive documentation
  3. Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
  4. Responding to change over following a plan

Nowadays many software development initiates are managed with Agile methods. Even though some people are still skeptic about the Agile values, the success rate of software development initiatives has increased. The success of Agile values have now also intrigued experts in non-software development fields to deploy Agility beyond software development.

Large scale Agility remains difficult
Despite the success of Agile, achieving Agility in large settings remains difficult. Agility is achieved with small teams that operate nearly autonomously. When multiple Agile teams are interdependent and need to collaborate Agility gets impeded. More guidance is needed to achieve Agility in large settings.

The Agile 5+1 method
The Agile 5+1 method offers that guidance. In collaboration with the VU University and TU Delft we developed Agile 5+1, based on the recognized need in the market and my PhD research. Agile 5+1 consists of a model and a framework. The framework contains 20 intervention actions to achieve large scale Agility in software development and non-software development settings. The model summarizes the framework, as shown below.

Agile 51 model

Two instances of Agile 5+1 has been already successfully applied in a number of my consultancy assignments at multi-nationals.

Publication and next steps
Agile 5+1 also completes my PhD, with the main research question: "How to improve the Agility of a network of IT service providers". The paper with Agile 5+1 has been sent to a scientific community for acceptance. Hopefully the results will interest the group of leading experts. When the paper gets accepted I will present the results at the upcoming conference. Since the paper has been submitted for acceptance I cannot share the method via the net yet. However feel free to contact me for more details.