Let it go or Lose it !
The role of Leadership in organisation's Agile transformation is a critical piece. Yet many organisations struggle to find the right balance between top-down vs. grass-root transformation. I would like to share an experience where we were able to achieve fairly good grass-root movement, but had serious challenges building the agile mindset at the leadership level. While the leadership was trying to help with the best of their intentions, certain actions, behaviours and patterns did affect the spirit of agility. If you are keen to hear about typical leadership anti-patterns during agile transformation and some pointers on how to avoid them, this session is for you.
Outline/structure of the Session
The organization was scaling up in terms of people and technology. At the same time, the agile transformation was happening with the functional teams (against the cross-functional recommendation of agile). As a consequence of the sudden growth, there were new “functional” teams that were being formed. And cross-functional was more virtualized (using release level standups).
All is well !
The journey started well with scrum teams formed across the organization and had started to sprint. The incremental releases were defined across varied functional teams to arrive at realistic release dates. Information radiators started to show up in the walls and the communications. People were curious to know what was happening.
However, as in every change management, the heat was felt in few corners of the organization. Many senior individuals, who could get hold of individuals earlier, found no "resources" when they needed to get some urgent hacks / pet projects/ new spikes done as everyone was locked into sprints and needed to be focusing on the theme of the sprints. Aided by pressure from the business, they needed “to manage randomness” which was not being provided due to clear sprint themes and boundaries.
The Agile Teams discussed using the "Sacrifice one person" approach but given the pressure the projects were in, they ended up calling the scrum rules of "Firewalls" (do not disturb the team in middle of sprints – will take it on priority in the upcoming sprints).
The Slowdown & Drift
The "visible status" was seemingly uncomfortable. In addition, all the risks and challenges being exposed by Agile team was too much to handle. Based on some water-cooler discussions, the Agile rollout team was asked to take the information radiators off the display walls. This led to reduction in visibility of progress and aided an imaginary ambiguity of the real status. Real issues were slowly pushed under the rugs. There were some "expedite" kind of initiatives with fixed deadlines that deviated the team from the rhythm of sprints. The sense of “losing control” by the management started to emerge, which was fuelled by many pressure situations and wrong attribution.
Organization structures & leadership were redone leading to team members serving two masters (in some instances) and getting pressurized work prioritization. The teams got struck into self-organization mode for too long and could not move into the self-managed mode (with exceptions from 1-2 teams, who did show that self-managed is the way forward).
The teams were delivering, yet not happy with how things were going. The development teams loved the rhythm of sprints but the ceremonies were merely mostly on paper with skepticism that they had no control over things. “This process would change anyway” - attitude started to spread within the team.
- Agile rollout is a two-way street, not to be done across the table – “you give me this, I get you that”. It is in fact a round table than a square one where everybody is equal and the support is more participative than autocr
atic is a good starting point.
- Leaders should focus on people and not hide behind processes & tools (Any process, there will be ways to beat the system if the team isn't believing in the goal)
- Be there and help collaboratively set up the right patterns of success
- Sincerely delegate
responsibility – Have managers to hire, groom and remove big impediments but not to delegate tasks. The servant leader !
- Let go of control – Instead of trying to remote-control, participate with your team with a strategic alignment and help them focus on the unified goal
- Walk the talk, esp. with transparency and question people who are shy of the transparency
- Enjoy experimentation, inspire teams, be curious and be prepared for the long haul of Agile Rollout
Agile Managers,Line Managers,Senior Executives, Scrum Masters, Team Members
No special requirements. This a lightweight talk.
schedule Submitted 1 year ago
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