An Agile adoption and transformation require a lot of change at all levels of a company. Most importantly, it’s more than a process change, a concept that can cause leaders to stumble as they move their teams forward. For leaders, it’s important to leave some traditional management ideas behind in favor of a more Agile leadership approach. In this webinar, David Hawks breaks down four major obstacles leadership faces during an Agile adoption and transformation:
- Driving vs. Supporting
- Lack of Support to Improve
- Drowning in a Sea of Opportunity
- Focus on Output vs. Outcome
Besides time and having management show support, what tips do you have to encourage former waterfall employees to access self-empowerment?
Empowerment takes a mindset shift from the entire team. The best advice would be for managers and ScrumMasters to continuously encourage the team to share their ideas and try new things, and hold them accountable for continually practicing these methods.
Another way to do this would be one-on-one conversations where managers can ask questions to find out what the team needs to continue improving.
When you are changing the way leadership prioritizes items and transforms the urgent projects into a backlog for the team to pull from, what practices do you recommend?
When it comes to prioritizing, you never want to approach it with a divide and conquer method. Instead, use techniques that will bring stakeholders together and get them talking to one another about the projects they want to prioritize. This should be a collaborative process.
You can look for tools online to practice this mindset, such as Buy a Feature by Innovation Games. Story mapping is another great tool that can help a team prioritize within context. You can learn more about this technique from Jeff Patton’s book, Story Mapping.
What’s the biggest factor in moving from downward chaos to upward growth?
So this question refers to the pivot point between Chaos & Resistance and Integration & Practice on our Path to Agility. You can really see that a team is transitioning into the Integration & Practice stage when they become more comfortable with the language of Agile. This typically takes around 3-6 sprints, which are essentially cycles of learning. It’s important for the team to have this period where they can practice the techniques they’ve recently learned and begin to get comfortable with the new system. A key factor of this cycle of learning is the retrospective, where the team can really focus on how to improve their processes.
Have you seen this practice work well in IT infrastructure teams?
Yes, we’ve seen that Agile’s core principles still apply. However, Kanban typically works better than Scrum when it comes to IT infrastructure. Kanban provides a more continuous flow of tasks as opposed to weekly plans. Because IT infrastructure usually deals with more interim driven work rather than work that can be planned out in advance, this framework tends to be a better fit.
What tips do you have for encouraging cross-functional teams in a matrix organization?
This question addresses the biggest factor that keeps organizations from truly getting all the benefits of Agile they are seeking. However, finding a way to address this is difficult because it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution. It really depends on the culture of the organization.
Some companies have fixed this by having feature teams initially report straight to the VP. This empowers the teams and stops them from continuing bad habits that arise from reporting straight to output focused managers. Then, once the managers also get a handle on their new outcome focus, they are placed into the feature teams. This process can help encourage a smoother transition of the company mindset from output to outcome.
Is this directed primarily at software development or an overall business operational culture?
Most Agile adoptions come out of the software world but Agile methodology applies across the board. Often, organizations think the problems are confined to the software department when in reality the entire organization needs to change. From the executives to HR to marketing teams, Agile is effective for all levels and parts of a business.
For organizations where there is a clear strive to meet business commitments and deadlines, how do you help get senior leadership more open minded to allow a learning environment, particularly if there are offshore teams involved, which has a cost associated with it?
The first question we ask senior leaders is this: “Are you happy with how IT is working?” Not surprisingly, their answer is always no. There is nearly always a disconnect between IT and the rest of the company. Deadlines are handed out like free candy but rarely met. This creates a level of distrust.
Agile provides senior leaders with a solution to this problem but they need to be as involved with the change as IT. Senior leaders can help by allowing time (3-6 sprints) for teams to make mistakes and test out new ideas. The organization can eventually get to a point where they are rebuilding trust by demonstrating a higher level of predictability.