Updated: May 2, 2022
I am sharing what I found in my master's thesis in parts broken down from the research questions. This fourth post uses practitioners' stories to examine the ways in which the Bicycle Program of the Municipality of Amsterdam is already working in an agile manner, and in which ways it is not. See prior parts here: 1, 2, 3. See the full thesis here. Need some background on what agile means? See here.
Blog post 4: Gaps between the current way of working in the Bicycle Program of the Municipality of Amsterdam and agile
To learn about the way of working in the Bicycle Program of the Municipality of Amsterdam, I talked to 12 practitioners (9 of which were in or had at one point been involved with the bicycle program) in semi-structured interviews. Separate from the narrative interviews done on the Alexanderplein project, these interviews had a list of items to ask about which included getting the interviewees' thoughts on the agile characteristics and practices lists. Here is some of what they said:
A selection of what practitioners said in the semi-structured interviews
I found four main themes in these interviews. The first two relate to challenges that employees must deal with: balancing numerous interests and stakeholders and changing conditions along with limited time, money, and capacity. The third theme, collaboration, is a potential solution to address the first two themes. It seems to happen most in small working groups, but it is also necessary to collaborate across departments and disciplines. Agile characteristics and practices relate to and complement the collaboration. The fourth theme is the role of the manager. He or she has a key role in how the first two themes are addressed; however, there are varying perspectives on what this role should be. Many of the interviewees like the idea of the manager as a facilitator that enables employees to get their work done, but some think the manager needs to be strong and provide direction.
Thematic map of key themes and sub-themes from semi-structured interviews
During the analysis, it became clear that the agile characteristics and practices are connected to each other, and when practitioners told their personal stories, they showed how the agile characteristics and practices related directly to what they face at work.
What are gaps between the current way of working and agile for the Bicycle Program of the Municipality of Amsterdam?
The Bicycle Program of the Municipality of Amsterdam is already working in a partially agile way. Frequent collaboration, information driving decisions and a focus on people are all already happening, and there is a strong focus on teamwork within small groups. Meanwhile, gaps between the current way of working and agile include the areas of responding to and welcoming change, early, incremental and continuous delivery of a working product, and simplification (maximizing the amount of work not done). The tables below show what I found for each agile characteristic and practice.
How the Bicycle Program of the Municipality of Amsterdam measures up to agile characteristics and practices (green = yes, orange = somewhat, red = no, blank = no clear conclusion could be made)
Update: since this blog post was written, an academic article has been published on the thesis research (see here, open access).