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Book excerpt: Embracing agile to drive digital transformation

If there’s one thing that CIO’s have learned in recent years, it is that digital transformation is more than a buzzword. Embracing digital technologies has now become essential to successful business processes.

“A key element of transformation programs is that strategies need to evolve with market conditions, customer expectations, maturity of new technologies, and many other factors,” Isaac Sacolick, president and CIO of StarCIO and author of Driving Digital: The Leader’s Guide to Business Transformation Through Technology, said.

One strategy that needs to evolve to facilitate this digital transformation evolution is agile practices, Sacolick highlights in Chapter 2 of his book. The chapter, titled Agile Transformation Practices, explains agile concepts, agile planning and estimation, and best practices to embrace agile techniques.

Businesses that want to compete in a digital world need flexible practices that enable frequent prioritization while driving collaboration between business and technology, Sacolick said in an email interview.

This is where embracing agile practices comes into play. “Agile practices, when executed with a defined planning and execution process, enable teams to focus execution on the short term, plan for longer roadmaps, and adjust strategies based on multiple feedback mechanisms,” he said.

In the excerpt below, he explains why embracing agile is a key digital transformation practice and the need to continue evolving agile techniques.

When you sign up to lead transformation, the implication is that you are going to review existing products, business processes, and capabilities and realign to a new vision. Transformation is a change management practice, so the organization must enable a culture, philosophy, governance, and practice to manage the change.

Unfortunately, we no longer live in a static world. We can’t portray our digital business future with certainty since so many market forces are transforming in parallel. So thinking that you can manage transformation the same way we construct buildings, bridges, and rockets in the past is outdated thinking. In fact, construction projects are now leveraging elements of agile and lean to enable greater flexibility.

For some organizations, just adopting basic agile practices is good enough to achieve a higher level of execution. These organizations will define their sprint and release schedule, practice standups, and use tools to document user stories. Even at larger scales, just adopting these basic practices provides value as it aligns business stakeholders and provides flexibility to adjust priorities.

But to transform organizations, you need to evolve agile beyond these basic practices into a disciplined scalable process, a practice that connects other functional areas such as marketing and operations, and organizational change to drive to an agile culture.

Driving Digital: The Leader’s Guide to Business Transformation Through Technology by Isaac Sacolick © 2017 Isaac Sacolick All rights reserved. Published by AMACOM Books a Division of American Management Association, 1601 Broadway, New York, NY 10019

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