Agile

Change is specific to your Organization...let your organization own their change.

Through my years of trial and error,  I have learned there is no one size fits all solution to transitioning organizations to agile..context is king! Every model is based on different organizational contexts. Each model’s context has its own starting and ending point. There’s no guarantee that your organization is at the same starting point and aiming to end at the same ending point.

 

Organizations commonly introduce (SAFEe) large agile models. A common misconception is if it’s big and prescriptive, it must be good! However, this leads to high disruption to the organization and a steep learning curve. This slows down the people as they must use new, foreign practices. The organization’s rush to become agile overnight by introducing a heavy weight model causes them to   lose sight of the fact that the primary purpose of the organization is deliver products/services, not to be agile. When organizations transition to agile, they need to walk the line between gaining adoption of agile practices and continual delivery of their product/service. They do this by phasing their rollout as a series of experiential learning by groups of people who do the work.



The Composite Model

I have developed a composite model based off the works of Jason Little. This model is separated into small bite sized chunks that can be consumed in any order. You do not need to implement this model linearly.

 

To achieve agility , you must fully understand the organization’s context. Organizations are built from the efforts of their people. These people can identify the impediments that are prohibiting their  team from delivering product or service to market quickly (i.e. the pain points).  Identifying impediments requires you to visually illustrate where the impediments are and select employees at all levels of the organization who are affected by this change. Involve them with every step of the process.  (HINT: This is the topic of the next blog post. Subscribe on the right and I’ll email you when the post comes out)

 

Once the impediments are identified, organizations should list out some possible solutions and identify success criteria for each impediment. Next, they can run experiments to test each proposed solution and solve them incrementally. The solution to the impediments may not be found from the first experiment. It might require several trials until the desired outcome is found.

 

This model is fairly generic intentionally. There’s no magic formula to solve how to make your organization agile. Every organization is different and will be facing different impediments. It’s up to you as the change agents to determine what those impediments are by encouraging small, incremental changes and prioritizing the people ahead of the processes and tools.

 

Organizational Agility is a journey, not a destination.

David Dame


This is the first post in a three part series. Please like, share and comment and I’ll be sure to update you when the next post in the series comes out.

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Organizational Innovation requires Guts and Investment

We all have heard those stories of people on their death bed saying that their biggest regret in life was not taking more chances… I'm sure that there are companies that are no longer around echoing those same words.

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Medium to large organizations are good at putting out fires or dealing with crisis as death is imminent.

Complacency is the silent organization killer.  It is not in immediate death, rather a slow death by bleeding slowly until there is no more life in the organization to innovate and compete.

Organizations are always striving to improve their efficiency and productivity.  They put all of their time and effort into continuously improving their current processes and practices.  This is good to do, but it will only give you marginal gains. We see minimal benefit to this as people don't want to seem to put the effort in because the see a low return on their investment.

However, to achieve the biggest gains, organizations need to invest hugely in new and bold ways to do things.  They need to have the guts and take a chance to be able to embrace a managed disruptive environment to the current status quo.  They need to put an investment of time and resources independent from the ones that are running current operations to introduce out-of-the-box thinking that will totally innovate the way they deliver their products and services today.  They need a lot of courage to have a substantial return on investment.  

One Person with Courage Has Success, Others Afraid Fail

 

Referencing Dr. John Kotter's change model, as an organizational coach, you need to work with the leadership and create that sense of urgency.

Organizations (like people), have a threshold for handling change.  As an organizational coach, you need to be aware of what your organization's upper boundary is to change.  Although we strive to get them to be confident to handle the operational innovation disruption, you do not want to create an anxiety that cripples the company from functioning.  Working with them over time, you get to improve their confidence to embrace change and you also have a pulse on the upper boundary limit to which they can handle the disruption.

How can you manage this organizational risk effectively?  Use the scrum framework as a tool in leading these organizational change initiatives.  Establish a good time boxed cadence and leverage the built-in inspect and adapt component of the framework will help provide transparency to allow the organization to pivot to move toward their goal.

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Your continuous improvement strategy needs to incorporate both  operational innovation initiatives  as well as continuous improvement of current processes.  These two things working in concert will help your organization to have a balanced portfolio to be able to lead and compete to an ever-changing environment to support their customers in the ever changing marketplace.

Organizations need to fully invest time & money to get a dedicated guiding coalition.

When companies go through a major organizational transformation (like bringing in agile).  The organizations that do not staff this change appropriately struggle in their agile adoption.  Asking employees to lead major operational innovations but still having to do there regular day-to-day job will stifle the innovation initiative.  Those organizations that staff  properly by either re-shifting internal resources, hiring new full-time resources, or by engaging in external consultants or change agents have had greater success in their organizational transformation.  

How do you create this sense of urgency and get the investment needed?

Develop a Change Vision.

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If you can visualize it, you can make it real.  You need to have a vision.  More importantly you need to communicate this vision effectively.  If you can't make this vision easily consumable to the organizational leadership team, its stakeholders, the people affected by this innovation, it will not get traction.  People already have a fear of change..  An effective vision will mitigate the fear of the unknown.  Jason Little, one of the most brilliant organizational change agent peers that I've come across has an awesome strategy on how to map this vision out.  You can review the slides here.

You can't compete in tomorrow's world with what you're doing today.  Instead of putting all your resources in trying not to fall, spend that time to be courageous enough to have your organization to succeed  Don't just say you want to do it… Put the resources into making this happen.

I rather talk about the success I have had from the mistakes that I learned from than the regret of not taking chances that might have helped me succeed.  

David Dame