Summary

The Australia and New Zealand School of Government (ANZSOG) released a article exploring how agile can not only be used for project management and software, but also has the potential to “change government and public administration”. In this article ANZSOG provides a overview on what agile is, its core principles, advantages of agile and challenges of brining agility in the public sector. It then explores what it could mean for traditional government operations and its use in different scenarios.

Key Points

  • The article reflects on research from a paper ‘Agile: a new way of governing – in Public Administration Review‘ (University Konstanz) and how it can benefit public sector managers.
  • It provides a high-level overview of what is agile, including:
    • is the opposite of traditional hierarchical and bureaucratic organisations
    • requires new forms of self-selected, team-based organisational structures, and leadership that serves these teams
    • thrives in innovation-oriented organisational cultures
    • requires new, flexible forms of contracting and procurement.
  • It reflects on the Agile Manifesto (Beck, et al. 2001) movement, including its core values and principles, including:
    • Seek to fulfill the customer’s needs. Do so through the early delivery of software. Continuously improve that software.
    • Respond to the demand for changes to that software because doing so better positions the customer for success.
    • Shorten the timescale for the delivery of working software. Deliver changes frequently.
    • Developers should work hand-in-hand with business users.
    • Center fabrication around individuals motivated to succeed.
    • Emphasize face-to-face conversation within the team and between the development team and the broader organization.
    • The most important benchmarks are working software.
    • Sustainable development is the goal. All involved parties should be able to maintain a constant pace of engagement.
    • Continuously focus on technical quality and good design.
    • Emphasize simplicity.
    • Self-organization in teams improves design and production.
    • Regularly reflect on how to improve this process.
  • The paper discusses some of the advantages of agile, including managing change, more adaptable, improving transparency, better use of resources, autonomy and continuous learning & improvement.
  • It explores the challenges of introducing agile within the public administration, including risk-aversion, hierarchical structures, centralized decision making, contracting, procurement and top-down zero risk culture.

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