Enterprise Agility–The Big Picture

(Note: The Big Picture graphic below has been revised during this series of posts. I try to keep the latest version here so you may see some differences if you follow the series from front to back).

I spend a fair amount of time working with executives trying to give them the “big picture” of what their software organization, requirements, process and delivery model would look like after they adopt enterprise agility and implement the Agile Release Train (Chapter 18 of Scaling Software Agility). My thinking is that if I can paint the “after” picture in their minds without spending all day at it, then it will be easier to for them to understand the types of work they need to do to achieve it.

For some time, I’ve struggled to come up with a graphic that communicates the high-level model of enterprise agility as simply as the waterfall graphic communicated its stage-sequenced model. I’ve made a number of attempts at it, including a few in the book, but I don’t feel that I ever really captured the essence in a single graphic. (Though I’m a writer at times, I’m a far more visual learner).

Recently,  I worked with Matthew Balchin and Richard Collins at Symbian Software Ltd. , ( and later, with Juha-Markus Aalto of Nokia, Nov-Jan 2009) to build a “single slide” big picture that we could use in a number of presentation contexts. Here is a modified result.


The Big Picture (updated Mar 2009)

I tested an earlier version of this graphic recently with a group of software executives contemplating an agile transformation. We spent a solid hour just discussing the graphic. It seemed pretty effective in helping them understand the intended result, with far fewer words and slides.

Since it seemed to work but it’s not quite self explanatory, I will annotate it extensively in some upcoming posts in the hope that it might help others struggling with the same communication challenge.