Broken Promises

We are at a tipping point in the Agile story.

For almost a decade now, highly authoritative “agile enablement firms” have been telling management that it is perfectly OK to mandate the use of agile practices, and that everything will be OK.

They’ve been told that the opt-in engagement of the people who do the work does not actually matter. As long as the highly authorized leaders are in, we will be OK. The people and the culture will change if you authorize the agile coaches to implement this new set of practices, and/or this new “structure”.

In the present day, we have large corporations trying 2, 3, 4 times to get it right by using this approach. Millions upon millions are being spent on management-mandated agile training, management-mandated agile practices, and management-mandated agile “coaching”.

It’s the elephant in the room. The leaders of the agile institutions and those who orbit around these institutions are saying absolutely nothing about this in the public square.

And there is a term for this: it’s called whistling past the graveyard.

The answer of course it to replace the management-mandate of agile practices with an enterprise-wide invitation.

And invite everyone in the organization into the story, and into the process of writing the new story.

That requires the formally authorized leadership to actually admit they do NOT have all the answers.

It also requires agile coaches to routinely and deliberately deflect all projections of authority.

These are huge impediments to the successful implementation of agile ideas at scale– the implementation of agile thinking across an entire enterprise.

The solution is actually very simple. Instead of pushing a process change, use “pull” instead. Use invitation, instead of that nasty mandate.

Open Agile Adoption (OAA) is one way to use invitation and “pull” to successfully introduce Agile into your company.

If you are considering a new Agile adoption, OAA and “pull”– powered by invitation– can actually help you get traction right away.

If you already tried a management mandate of Agile, OAA can help you do a reset…and turn that thing around.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Triggered by Process Change

The introduction of process change into your organization can be very triggering for participants. Consider Scrum, an Agile framework that changes around meetings, roles and rules, in service to continuous improvement.

Everything changes.

If you are a “manager” or a software “architect”, your entire world has just been turned upside down. You understood the old game. Not so here. In the new game, you are expected to find your place as a Product Owner, or a Scrum Master, or a participant on a Team.

If you have kids, or you are trying to save for retirement, or if your spouse is not currently working, or if you are seeking a promotion, a change like Scrum can be very triggering. It can evoke very primitive feelings of fight/flight, primitive feelings about your job (your “survival”) being threatened.

In short, the introduction of something like Scrum into your organization is likely to be very triggering. When changes like this are introduced into an organization as a mandate, as a “push” from management, we can predictably expect the change to trigger people.

When this happens, the level of anxiety in the organization rapidly escalates.

The number of people who are worried increases.

The level of fear increases.

In a situation like this, we can expect very lukewarm results, serious resistance, and lots of disengagement. The inputs are anxiety, worry, fear, and resentment.

This is exactly why management-mandated process change is seldom rapid or lasting.

 

The solution is very simple. Instead of pushing a process change, use “pull” instead. Use invitation, instead of that nasty mandate.

Open Agile Adoption (OAA) is one way to use invitation and “pull” to successfully introduce Agile into your company.

If you are considering a new Agile adoption, OAA can help you get traction right away.

If you already tried a management mandate of Agile, OAA can help you do a reset…and turn that thing around.

 

 

 

 

 

Telling Me What I Want to Hear

The whole idea that you can bring radical process changes into an organization without considering the people who do the work is an idea promoted by many “Agile enablement firms.”

According to these highly authoritative “Agile transformation” consultants, all you have to do is completely authorize their well-documented process-change plan, and write a big check. The now-authorized consultants will do the rest. Click. Done. Well-intentioned leaders in large corporations are usually very happy to believe this, as it is often exactly what they hope to hear.

If they ask about employee engagement, the well-intentioned org leaders are told that employee engagement in the new plan is not a necessary precondition for success. What a relief! The employees and eventually the entire culture will eventually do what the new plan (the new “structure”) encourages them to do.

While it is true that new rules encourage new behaviors, this is typically not immediately true, since people are involved … and people like to be free.

New rules imply some kind of game. And every good game has opt-in participation.  The process change amounts to a management mandate. A large number of participants refuse to play, and “opt out.”

But wait. These highly “triggered”, justifiably resistant, opted-out employees do not “up and leave.” Far from it! They do not vacate your organization for a long, long time. Instead, they simply disengage. They “check out.” It shows up as passive  behavior that directly opposes the very-well-intentioned process change.

And this high level of disengagement virtually guarantees that the change isn’t rapid, and that it doesn’t last.

Management-mandated process change actually perpetuates the original problem: lower and lower levels of employee engagement.

The solution is very simple. Instead of pushing a process change, use “pull” instead. Use invitation, instead of that nasty mandate.

Open Agile Adoption (OAA) is one way to use invitation and “pull” to begin the process…the process of installing genuine and lasting business agility across your entire enterprise.