Adopting an agile approach to business innovation requires a sense of urgency, commitment to change, organisational vision and an ongoing focus on momentum and support.\nThat was the view of Australian Post general manager of the Digital Delivery Centre, Cameron Gough, and NAB capability uplift manager, Dylan Verheijden, who joined forces to present their real-life experiences of agile at the Agile Australia conference in Sydney on 19 June.\nThe duo outlined four overarching principles for anyone looking to bring agile methodologies into their organisation. These are: A sense of urgency; clear vision around what it is you want to change; support for helping staff along the journey; and regular progress reports and \u2018quick wins\u2019 to sustain momentum.\n\u201cAnyone can rationalise the need to get a 5 per cent increase on sales, but what really gets people are matters of the heart,\u201d Verheijden said. For NAB, agile was a grass roots approach that evolved within existing teams, and first took hold in its Wholesale Banking business in 2010. The banking group now has 50 teams delivering using agile methodologies.\nAustralia Post is going through one of the most fundamental and challenging times in its 220-year history as people shift from physical to digital communication, providing all the impetus it needs to embrace agile, Gough told the audience. Forty-one per cent of its customers interacted with Australia Post digitally last year.\nThe group\u2019s agile adoption has been driven from the top down, and kicked off across its recently established Digital Delivery Business. Gough said it decided on a four-layer approach espoused by Gartner: Pace layered IT; systems of innovation; systems of differentiation; and systems of record. The team was given the green light to innovate using agile methodologies on the first two of these layers and has an 18-month window supported by its CIO to \u201cnail it\u201d, he said.\n\u201cWe have been allowed the freedom to explore different ways of working, learn from them and then take these practices to the mothership in the long run,\u201d Gough said.\nNAB\u2019s agile delivery meanwhile is based on Carnegie Mellon\u2019s Software Program Improvement Infrastructure best practices. \u201cThis gives us the process and metrics if we need them,\u201d Verheijden said. \u201cWith our teams, if you have a good idea and can convince your peers, then you get the backing.\u201d\nStaff can spend four hours a week working on process improvements and innovations and everyone is welcomed to join agile-led teams, he added.\nWhen it comes to supporting agile teams, NAB has taken a \u201cbutterfly approach\u201d, promoting education through peer-to-peer training and support. In contrast, Australia Post chose to form a new team of eight experienced in agile methodology to drive its approach. Gough\u2019s top priority was finding people who were the right cultural fit for the business. However he admitted teething problems when initially bringing together individuals that hadn\u2019t worked together before.\nAustralia Post found it necessary to appoint a dedicated iteration manager to manage the reporting and progress components of its agile delivery and cited dramatic productivity improvements as a result.\n\u201cOnce the team is in place, the job becomes having to remove the friction points on the wheels,\u201d Gough continued. \u201cIn our first iteration we weren\u2019t trading well and by the third iteration we knew something wasn\u2019t right. We discovered two things: One was fixing the fundamentals that weren\u2019t working [like the development machines and that the proxy blocked too much and slowing down the team]; the second was continuous delivery.\n\u201cWith a waterfall approach you have three or four months to get to the first stage and have often worked things out along the way, whereas with agile you\u2019re reporting every week.\u201d\nStaff challenges cited by NAB included balancing peer-to-peer learning with practices procedures, and articulating what the agile teams needed to achieve on an ongoing basis. In both cases, rewarding progress and success at an individual and team level, while taking a constructive approach to failure, was a vital part of retaining momentum, the two speakers said.\nBoth organisations have established a pipeline of projects and \u2018enhancements backlog\u2019 to keep agile teams busy, as well as better prioritise workloads. Having a \u201ccorporate angel\u201d or sponsor within the organisation that can meet agile sceptics head-on and support the work being achieved is another must if you\u2019re to keep making progress.\n\u201cWithout the support of our CIO and COO, we would have struggled,\u201d Gough said. He added his team have established a \u2018brand\u2019 for the way it delivers agile. \u201cIt\u2019s about the \u2018how\u2019, not \u2018what\u2019.\u201d\nTo ensure agile practices can meet the needs of all organisational departments, Verheijden and Gough built in scalability and enterprise-grade capability across their teams from day one. While it\u2019s not surprising to see agile now at the heart of emerging business areas such as mobile, even the traditional payments team are looking at how the approach can improved their products and services, Verheijden said.