Sebastian Kamilli, Product Program & Operations Manager and Agile Coach at Blinkist, talks about his passion and experience with agility.
Erdal: How would you explain agility in 1-2 sentences to someone who has no idea and no contact with agility?
Sebastian: Agility is your ability to respond effectively and efficiently to the unexpected and unplanned and quickly turn challenges into opportunities (The Agility Shift, 2015, Source)
When did you first get in touch with agility? What inspired you right from day one?
Back in 2008 I read the books Peopleware, Agile Software Development and then discovered Scrum. I learned about the importance of people in an organization and about close contact with the customer. And I understood and experienced how Agile and at that time especially Scrum enables people to bring out their best and create successes by building products that create value for the customer and the business.
What is an Agile mindset? And is it a condition for a successful agile transformation?
For me the Agile Mindset is based on a deep understanding of the agile values defined by the Agile Manifesto and the 12 principles behind and operating in alignment with the values and principles. Having an agile mindset is fundamental to a successful agile transformation.
How is organizational agility measured?
By the ability of the organization to respond effectively and efficiently to the unexpected and unplanned and quickly turn challenges into opportunities.
Supporting metrics are the development of Time To Learning, eNPS, NPS development and the development of actionable agile metrics like Lead-Time and Cycle-Time in addition to Business Metrics and DORA metrics.
Some people think that the OKR framework is not necessary if a company is working with a scaled agile framework anyway. What is your opinion on this?
The OKR framework is one approach to drive alignment and connect aspired outcomes with activities of teams. The kernel of a good strategy consists of the challenge and diagnosis combined with a guiding policy and derived coherent actions. OKRs can be a good practice for expressing the guiding policy and also to derive and monitor coherent actions of a strategy.
When scaling, alignment with the company strategy across the whole organization becomes a greater challenge.This is still the case when working with scaled agile frameworks. OKRs foster to scale effectively (in the right direction) and not just efficiently.
Are OKRs necessary? No. I guess there are many ways to ensure alignment with strategy.
Are OKRs supporting strategy and alignment and would I recommend using them? Yes.
What would be a good way to indicate a high level of maturity in an agile organization?
When the 12 agile principles are deeply embedded in the culture of an organization.
Is agility a leadership competency?
Agility, being able to respond effectively and efficiently to the unexpected and unplanned and quickly turn challenges into opportunities, is an important leadership competency. Being equipped with an agile mindset and skills to foster and drive agility enables impactful leadership that drives creating value for the customer and organization and people.
What causes agile to fail?
A focus on agile practices without understanding the agile values and principles.
Many forms of inertia to change the current system.
What has changed in the area of agility in recent years?
Agility crossed boundaries from its grassroots in being applied to Software Development to the transformation of the whole organization. Approaches matured and e.g. with the evolution of DevOps, Scrumban higher level problems can be addressed easier.
At the same time it became more complicated to navigate the agile landscape and figure out what contributes to agility and in what context to use what approach.
What are the biggest challenges in agile these days?
Dilution. Many quite similar approaches are available and less consolidation and unlearning is taking place.
Stronger commercialization aspects make it more difficult to understand driving forces and motives and it became even more important to tie back to the core of agile.
About Sebastian Kamilli:
Product Program & Operations Manager and Agile Coach at Blinkist. He has experience as Agile Coach, Scrum Master and Agile Lead since 2009 and in addition build on experience as Systemic Coach, Developer, PowerMBA and Digital Gardener. Sebastian is also Father of 4 children.