A starter-pack is essentially a roadmap-like document that provides people with a view of your agile initiative’s big picture. It helps them to understand what the initiative entails, the primary drivers and the specific agile end goals you’re aiming to achieve.
When designed properly, a starter-pack has the power to help your organization save time and money. Here are eight specific benefits of taking the time to create one of these:
1) Understanding your organization’s terminology and communication style
A starter-pack helps to define how people within your organization describe aspects of a project along with the communication styles they use to articulate priorities. This helps to prevent misunderstandings that serve as roadblocks to progress.
2) Evaluating team buy-in
Buy-in and user adoption are key to the success of any major initiative. Conducting a stakeholder mapping of who is bought-in and who is not helps you understand the level of support you have. The sooner you know if you have major detractors you need to convert, the better off you’ll be.
3) Evaluating current alignment with agile principles
The starter-pack should help you determine how close to agile principles and operating practices your organization currently is. Knowing how far you have to go actually makes for a more efficient transformation as you’ll be able to confront problem areas head-on, in order of priority that is most beneficial to you
4) Removing organizational friction and inertia
If you hire a personal trainer to help you achieve fitness goals, the trainer is going to tailor a program toward those goals. However, before the workout is customized to be uniquely challenging, you’ll likely be given a basic routine that serves as a starting point to get your mind and body readjusted to regular exercise. That basic routine is intended to help get you started in the right direction by removing the inertia that caused you to skip the gym in the past. Similarly, a starter-pack gets an organization moving in the right direction by removing the friction that kept the company turning to inefficient, outdated operating practices. How do you do this? Outline the basic routines you’d expect everyone to follow to cover off the fundamentals of agile and make sure that you accommodate education and learning as part of this routine.
5) Giving people a view of what their involvement entails
People like to visualize how a major company initiative is going to impact their day-to-day work life. If they don’t understand what their involvement is going to look like, they may be more resistant to change. A starter-pack can help reduce resistance by providing a picture of what to expect during all stages of the initiative and how the changes are designed to improve their jobs.
6) Providing a true assessment of how ready the organization is for transformation
When considering a transformation, it is important to assess the readiness of the organization. Discovering any potentially challenging areas early in the process helps you to address them more effectively. Make these as specific as you possibly can.
7) Making responsibilities and roles clearer
A well-crafted starter-pack helps the organization become aware of its responsibilities in ensuring a successful initiative so the coach/consultant isn’t expected to control the process from start to finish. Organizations that understand their active role and responsibilities in a transformation are far more likely to maintain the practices they’ve been taught long after the coaches/consultants have left. I actually wrote a blog post on my personal blog about how I bring a “starter kit” of a task list to help decide on “the definition of done” when it comes to a team’s development project.
8) Managing expectations and guiding outcomes
A starter-pack should help to keep expectations for the transformation realistic and attainable. Realistic expectations can provide the “quick wins” that are essential to keeping your team motivated. A dashboard which indicates progress is a very good way of approaching this part of the starter-pack.
With all these benefits for creating a starter-pack for your company transformation, it’s important to remember that it’s just a starting point. The ultimate goal for a starter-pack is to develop an organization-wide ability to make informed decisions without ever directly referring to the document.