Agile Mastery

On a daily basis I see (and read) many posting about agility, scrum and many, many other frameworks, methods, tools and opinions about them. So I have been wondering what another posting would add to that collection without being overly repetitive and interesting enough to be read.

Of course I could start a promotion of a specific framework of method. Many others do. Or just take the opposite stance and start a rant against specific frameworks or methods. Many others do. Or tell you exactly what (specific) solutions may be helpful in your search for answers to the challenges you are confronted with on a daily basis. Many others do.

I will however – at least try to – do it differently. Yes, I will take a specific challenge that I have seen quite often in practise and next dissect it. And give you some ideas on how I supported my clients to change it. I even will share my failures on that as well, since I welcome each event as a potential learning outcome. With that I will ask you to think about your own “comparable” challenge, what you do and what you could learn from that, so that you can use that learning next time.

This first episode is about a client that is a great employer to its employees, since it is of utmost importance that the people are happy in their jobs. So I have been requested to obtain an independent opinion about their status quo on agility. And I accepted this research-first approach.

One of the statements made by many people within the company is that they are not looking for a dogmatic approach in which a specific framework is “pushed” into the community. I however found out that this statement was primarily used to defend the opinion of the individuals expressing them, in which they are most probably not willing to change the status quo. Actually the management “stated” that the hapiness of people has the highest value for them, which is true as long as you do your job kind of according their thoughts and ways of working during the last decades.

So people have been doing their jobs, and collaboratively shared their individuals opinions to each other. And by staying under the radar, so not really challenging the status quo, they kept management happy and their own positions as well and thus were “happy” as well. By realizing what I really observed that was happening, I focused more on challenging on how they implemented the company’s values. Since I am a pragmatic type of person, I already offered my professional coaching services to provide people a headstart into change.

On my (voluntary) offer I received no (positive) response, and I believe that some people felt threatened by it. Displaying the value issues to the management, in which they had to participate to make change happen, did not lead to any change on their side as well. Actually, it was interpreted as a threat as well, since change was needed and management was not sure if they really wanted to change.

My statement is that human beings are complex. And that systems of humans beings (like teams, departments, companies) are even more complex. So the awareness evoked from the example before takes some time to evolve. It happens a lot though that such issues arise, in which you will find out that your client, it may be the whole company, or just a bunch of teams or even a single team, is simply not ready to change.

And of course I could have done some things differently. Even if you are strong in exploring some solutions already before really adequately tackling the problem, people may focus on that one aspect only. Think about not just offering a training, or just individual coaching as in my case. Even with the right intent (it is just an offer), it may be interpreted quite differently, since expectations are not always clearly expressed.

Talking about expectations. Management was quite clear on the way to do the first approach by just observing and reporting back the finding. I accepted that, where I should have refused it. Since it was prescribed how to do it, the most important things have not been discussed (the why and the what) and with that you may end up in not achieving some (untold) expectations. Therefore it is always a good idea to think about a holistic approach in which the order of why-what-how is much clearer defined and it has been discussed and agreed upon by your client.

Did you ever run into a comparable situation? And you want to exchange? Just explore a bit through my website and just contact me.