Creating an agile organization with an Agile (annual) plan

A complex program, a continuously changing environment or a project with more than 1000 requirements and at least as many preconditions and interfaces? Then it quickly becomes difficult to make a plan that gives the right direction in advance. Our experience shows that this is not due to the quality of the annual plans, but that there is so much uncertainty that it is impossible to map out the exact right route in advance. It is well known that we live in a continuously changing world, but why do we still set our plans for one or more years? Moreover, we do not like to go back on decisions made in the past, a deal is a deal. Going back on a decision is often seen as weakness. Let's start being an agile organization! By using an Agile annual plan you make this possible down to the very core of the organization. We are happy to explain what this means and how you can start with an Agile annual plan.

More about Agile

Would you like to know more about an Agile way of working? Then read this page!

Alignment with the organizational strategy
With an Agile way of working, your strategy does not change, you only assume that the path to your goal is not yet clear. You also accept that the environment of your organization is constantly changing. That's why the plan changes. The plan must therefore be in line with the organizational strategy and is therefore subject to change. Also throughout the year. What is the mission and vision of your organization? And what are your organization's long-term strategic goals? Make sure you distill your strategic initiatives for the coming year from this. This does not have to be concrete yet, but you could already determine a range and set expectations. Moreover, the way to get there is not always clear.

Short cyclical work with quarter rocks
To make this path transparent, you break it up into short, manageable periods that follow each other iteratively, for example in quarters. At the beginning of the year, you discuss spearheads on which you focus for the first quarter: the first cycle. This is what we call quarter rocks. The comparison with Agile's epics is quickly made. You can cut these quarterly rocks into clear, measurable key results. These are of course in line with the annual target. Make sure you don't formulate more than 3 to 5 quarterly rocks, so this can also mean that you spend a quarter less time on objectives that need less attention. We also present 3 to 5 key results per quarterly rock. The valuable thing about this method is that everyone is aware of the prioritization.
The state of affairs of the quarterly rocks is discussed in a weekly meeting. Actions are distributed here, requests for help are asked and actions that have been completed are reviewed. It is important that you discuss transparently which actions will be taken and that you make a joint estimate of how much time it will take to carry out an action. This can be weighed against the available hours for that week. It is very important that there is an open culture and mutual trust within the team. It is possible that someone has not completed his or her action, while a joint estimate has been made of how much time it will take. At such a time, space must be given to ask for help. Understanding and the will to help each other is very important for this. So take the time as a team to learn how much time actions actually cost. You can make a reasonable estimate after six months. You do this reflection by means of a review and a retrospective.

Review and retrospective
The general question that the team answers after a quarter is: are we on track or do we need to adjust? Have we achieved all the goals? And if so, were they ambitious enough? Or was there more to it? What is the quality of what we have delivered, what does the customer think? When do you know if a certain target was the right one? If all the targets set for the past quarter have been achieved, it is good to consider whether the targets were ambitious enough. We take as a rule of thumb that we set ambitious goals that are just achievable. We are satisfied when we reach 60 – 80%, the champagne is opened when we reach 100%. This means that the goals that are set can only be achieved if everything goes according to plan. We have experienced that a higher end result is achieved in this way. Reflecting on the goals is what we call the review. You also use a retrospective. This means that you also reflect on the process and the way of working together.
The conclusion as to whether the team is on track or not helps to set new goals. As a team, you already know more about the extent to which you will achieve the annual goal, whether it is possible to do more than in the past quarter or whether it may be necessary to set other priorities that contribute to the end result. In this way it is possible to adjust every quarter and within these quarterly rocks you even make weekly adjustments during team meetings. You have set up a flexible organization that is agile and is also able to reflect on your own work.

Flexible into the new year
Do you also suffer from schedules that often run differently, are changed or are not achieved? Or do you want to know what the possibilities are within your company to work in a more flexible way? Please contact: Sander van der Laan.

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