One division of a Fortune 500 Medical Device Manufacturer needed to transform their Agile and Product delivery. Their results in a short period impacted the entire division and provided them with the mindset and skills to continue their transformational journey.
Situation and Business Challenge
Progress doesn’t happen overnight. However, it can happen more quickly than most organizations expect with the right expertise, approach, people, and incentives. This was the experience of the central technology solutions division of a Fortune 500 medical device manufacturer.
The company began Agile and Product transformation years ago, driven by the Enterprise IT office. The central technology solutions division joined the company’s ‘Next Level’ initiative four years in and received two levels of training. However, the trainings were primarily conceptual, lacked key information on how to apply the knowledge, and ultimately proved to be ineffective. The central technology solutions division sought an external partner who could help them deliver a more effective training method.
The device manufacturer required a custom fit of Agile and Product practices to each division’s unique circumstances and to accommodate the org’s overall adherence to certain waterfall practices. Therefore, the central technology solutions division needed an adaptable partner who embraced a non-dogmatic Agile philosophy combined with the expertise to move them from the conceptual to the actionable.
Additionally, their partner needed a track record of transforming large organizations. The division comprises 24 teams and 200 people, including leadership. They worried that finding a partner who could provide a customized, scalable way to transform would be a needle in a haystack.
The central technology solutions division had never worked with an external partner and was curious how AIM could help while being cautious about the dynamic of the possible relationship. AIM immediately alleviated the division’s concerns by demonstrating our commitment to a collaborative partnership, ability to guide based on an understanding of the division’s transformational approach, and expertise to accurately assess team and organizational maturity.
The division trusted AIM to provide the strategic and tactical steps to progress coupled with customized coaching, training, and consulting to teams and leaders. Furthermore, our approach was methodology agnostic and inclusive of the mindset, principles, practices, and behaviors that foster mature Agile and Product delivery.
The central technology solutions division and AIM defined success as moving the currently inert organization forward on its Agile and Product maturity as represented by adjusting mindset and behaviors and adopting principles and practices. The client and AIM aligned on an “assess and adapt” solution in which AIM agreed to provide maturity assessments, short and long-term coaching plans, and individual and team coaching for 15 of the division’s teams over 12 weeks in three phases:
The central technology solutions division taught AIM their transformational approach for AIM to provide accurate maturity assessments. Because the division did not want “out of the box Agile,” we needed to establish a baseline against which to measure.
AIM bucketed the 15 teams across nine groups called “waves” and partnered with each on a staggered schedule. Our consultants attended meetings and conducted one-on-one and group interviews to assess mindset, principles, practices, and behaviors. They created short and long-term coaching plans based on recorded findings and executed them through spot, one-on-one, and group coaching. The nine waves showed marked improvement in applying Agile and Product practices.
AIM offers a flexible engagement model, adjusting its approach in order to meet clients wherever they are in their journey. AIM’s approach to Agile is, in itself, Agile. In this case, the statement of work included the ability to pivot directions as new information presented itself throughout the effort. The central technology solutions division and AIM adjusted their strategy three times by the project’s completion, resulting in a fourth and final version. Because the division was new to external partnerships, all parties agreed that the statement of work needed to adapt to shifting needs and circumstances. In typical AIM fashion, we completed the statement of work on time while facilitating and accommodating multiple changes in strategy:
- Changing of focused teams
- The transition of stakeholders and leaders with changing priorities
- Coordination with the newly established Community of Practice (CoP)
- Adjustments to coaching approaches
- Sensitivity to relationship dynamics between leaders
- Allowance for change management assistance
- Accommodation for scheduling conflicts resulting from the unanticipated new PTO policy
AIM and the central technology solution division’s partnership moved the 15 teams forward on their Agile and Product transformation. Additionally, it set them up to continue maturing on their journey. While AIM executed coaching plans during its assess and adapt phases, we also provided the teams and leadership with action and growth plans to implement after the engagement. Because the division is central to the device manufacturer’s IT organization, its improved maturity impacts the entire company.
As a result of AIM fostering the necessary environment for growth, the central technology solutions teams and leadership effectively applied the lessons learned from coaching and consulting. They successfully shifted from exploring Agile and Product concepts to doing them.
Even in ambiguous contexts with hard-to-track initiatives, AIM provides its clients a means to measure progress. While there are many soft data points to demonstrate the project’s success, the following numbers emphasize our successful delivery of the statement of work.
- Significant forward progress on Agile and Product transformational efforts for 15 global teams
- 31 team meeting observations
- 25 team interviews and spot coaching discussions
- 35 leadership and wave meeting observations
- 16 leadership interviews and spot coaching discussions
- 25 1:1 and group, team, and leadership coaching sessions
- Assessment of Enterprise IT Documents: 10 Working Agreements, 12 Product Definitions, 9 Objectives and Key Results (OKRs), 9 Roles and Responsibilities
- Evaluation of 11 JIRA boards and various tools and miscellaneous documents
- Assessment of 9 Health Checks
- Multiple ad hoc discussions with the division’s Next Level and CoP Leads
While these numbers are impressive, even more impressive was AIM’s actual impact on an Agile and Product transformation. The shift in mindset across the 15 teams, coupled with the adoption of new skills, more accurately reflects the success of the Assess and Adapt initiative.
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