3. Separate demand management from delivery
From an IT perspective, a key part of integration with business is dedicating staff to that relationship. In the DirecTV organization, this layer is known as demand management, where IT strategists work with business stakeholders to sketch out initial requirements.
"Demand management is solely focused on working with the business, trying to figure out where the business is heading and what the strategy is," says Gerjets. "When they come up with ideas they have a modeling tool they put them into to generate cost estimations and time estimations that the business can then use to say: 'That one doesn't come close to making sense and that one does.'"
As it turns out, making demand management a discrete function has been crucial to realizing the benefits of agility. Here's why: "Generally, in your traditional IT delivery world, according to almost every peer I've ever talked to, their delivery folks -- their developers, their designers -- are constantly pulled off of what they're doing to go estimate something that's never going to see the light of day." When you keep the best and the brightest of those creatives actually working on projects, rather than running estimates, time to market can drop dramatically.
4. Keep things transparent
IT organizations -- like any other -- have a natural tendency to reveal information that makes them look good and to hide information that could be seen as politically damaging. At DirecTV, says Gerjets, they have an ethos of keeping information about projects and their status as open as possible.
"Trying to keep secrets is devastating," says Gerjets. "It ultimately just breaks trust. So having complete transparency takes the political pressure off and puts it all on the table -- and we're all working against facts versus opinion, fiction, or perception."
Gerjets believes this transparency has had a beneficial effect on the business at large: "Through exposing the costing data and understanding the capacity of the organization, and understanding the timelines of what could be done, I've actually seem more collaboration across business groups, from the standpoint of them working through this stuff and figuring out for the business what is ultimately right."
5. Learn from failure
A key aspect of agility is simply trying more things -- which inevitably means an increase in the number of failed projects. That's why Gerjets and his crew created the F12 program, a 12-step plan to recover from the fear of failure, where employees inside and outside IT are encouraged to share videos and quizzes related to failed projects and create a collaborative learning experience.