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Strategizing & Scaling Agile Transformation


Episode Summary

In the latest episode of Behind the Growth, host Mudassar Malik engages in a candid conversation with Sorin Hogiu, an Agile Transformation Leader. Sorin’s incredible tech journey, spanning across countries and industries, started in Romania and led him to extraordinary experiences. He shares insights from his early forays into networking, his transition to software development, and his eventual immersion into the financial sector.

Diving deeper, Sorin elaborates on the essence of Agile transformation. He emphasizes its iterative nature, the importance of fostering a bottom-up decision-making culture, and the value of customer collaboration. The episode sheds light on how Agile methodologies can be tailored to fit different team dynamics and the significance of experimentation in achieving optimal outcomes.

And as we wrap up this eye-opening episode, Sorin leaves us with some golden nuggets of wisdom. Agile team dynamics, the delicate balance of seniority, and the undeniable role of fun in creating a productive and innovative work environment—these are the ingredients that Sorin believes will steer your agile transformation journey towards success.

Featured Guest

  • Name: Sorin Hogiu
  • What he does: Agile Transformation Leader
  • Noteworthy: Sorin Hogiu, an Agile Transformation Leader, brings to the table over 25 years of software development expertise. With a proven track record of delivering outstanding results, he excels in building and guiding high-performing technical teams, strategic planning, team leadership, and software design. Having worked for some of Canada’s largest financial organizations, such as RBC and BMO, Sorin is both experienced with and committed to driving successful Agile transformations.

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Key Insights

Journey Across Borders
Sorin Hogiu’s professional trajectory is a testament to adaptability and growth. Starting in Romania with a foundation in networking and software development, he expanded his horizons by working in Germany and eventually settling in Canada. His roles have varied, from a software developer to a consultant, and his experiences have culminated in his current position at RBC. This journey underscores the value of diverse experiences and the ability to adapt to different work cultures and environments.

The Essence of Agile Transformation
Sorin offers a deep dive into what Agile transformation truly means. It’s not just about iterative software development; it’s a shift in organizational culture. Agile emphasizes empowering individuals, fostering a bottom-up decision-making structure, and prioritizing close collaboration with customers. The approach is about being responsive to change, ensuring that feedback is rapidly integrated, and delivering value incrementally.

Team Dynamics in Agile
The success of Agile methodologies isn’t just about the process; it’s about the people. Sorin highlights the importance of team composition, noting that a mix of seniority levels can often be more effective than a team composed solely of senior members. Experimentation is key, and teams need to find the right balance that works for them. Additionally, integrating fun and ensuring team members connect outside of work tasks can foster a more productive and innovative environment.

For a successful agile implementation, your business partners and your customers need to be with you in this transformation. You need to be side by side. It needs to be a transformation on both sides.

Episode Highlights

The Power of Team Dynamics and Experimentation

Sorin discusses the importance of team dynamics in Agile transformation. He shares experiences from RBC, where different team structures were experimented with. A mix of senior, intermediate, and junior developers proved to be more dynamic and effective than a team of only senior members. The key takeaway is the need for experimentation to find what works best for an organization.

“We’ve tried something similar with a different team, but we said, okay, this problem is very complex. So we need to build a more senior team that actually has this idea of how to implement software, how to build software, very intrinsic in their, in their mind. And we build a team with only senior people. It actually proved that this team wasn’t as successful as the other one.”

The Role of Fun in Team Building

Sorin emphasizes the importance of integrating fun into the work culture. While formal meetings like sprint reviews are essential, informal bonding sessions, like going out for drinks, play a crucial role in team cohesion and productivity.

“You need to bring the people out. You need to bring the people to some events. We’ve done that in various companies. Of course, going for a drink on Thursday.”

Scaling Agile in Large Financial Institutions

Sorin reflects on the challenges and rewards of scaling Agile in a large financial institution like RBC. He expresses his surprise and satisfaction at how readily RBC embraced Agile. From starting with two vertical journeys focused on the client, they scaled to 25, leveraging the experiences and blueprints of previous teams.

“I was really surprised to see that an organization like RBC was ready for that change, and really happy to see that Agile was embraced the way it should have been.”

The Hybrid Work Model’s Efficiency

Sorin discusses the efficiency of the hybrid work model, emphasizing the value of both in-office and remote work. While in-office interactions can lead to instant solutions, remote work allows developers to focus without interruptions. The balance of both approaches is deemed optimal for the future.

“Bringing the people together into an office, working around the whiteboard, solutioning around the whiteboard, it’s very efficient. I feel that this hybrid mode, it’s actually the best way going forward.”

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