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.