If you are thinking of transforming your organization to adopt more agility at work when there is little to no leadership support, you have to ask yourself some serious questions first.
- Is it the right place and time for the agility transformation? Agility is not for everyone in every situation. I would recommend thinking with the Cynefin framework. If most of your work is complex and requires a lot of human collaboration, then go for it.
- Is it worth the time and effort? This is your question to answer. The amount of time and effort you will put on top of your current work will be like having another job.
- How far is the organization from agility? This is the gap analysis. How far is the current mindset / culture? Do they have some mindset and you need to introduce a few practices? Or there is no mindset and the change needed is significant.
- What do you have on the line? Your reputation, promotion, status, even your job. You need the courage and belief in agility that it would work for your organization.
- Are you ready to feel frustrated? The change is not guaranteed, and not easy. Any change is not for the faint of heart, so think twice. Agility transformation is an extreme change because it is flipping the way people do work upside down.
If your organization is far from agile, you are basically not just creating change, you are reversing a vicious cycle.
Do you have the resolution ready? Are excited to start? Proceed at your own risk.
The following usually works for any kind of change, but for agility transformations, there are a few caveats as well.
1. Seek help
Researching on your own and reading (such as this article) to get hints on how to move forward is great, but in sufficient. Reach out to me or other people who have gone through this or going through it. They will provide you with fantastic customized advice and moral support. It can be informal in the form of help or formal in the form of training and coaching.
2. Start with yourself
Sounds strange, but you will realize how un-agile you are with your interactions. The best aspect of starting with yourself, you will understand the struggles to have empathy with others and you will lead by example.
3. Go to leadership
Wait, you cannot go empty handed with empty promises. You need to build a case. Think about how to best approach management based on the situation and personality type. Tell stories and give management an offer they cannot refuse. Do not expect a yes, and do not take a no for an answer. With leadership support, things become much easier. I would recommend taking a look at this article on HBR.
4. Plant the seeds
Agility transformation shouldn’t be simply pushed down on employees, it goes against agility itself. Hence, talk to coworkers, build a case for them. Create some awareness sessions. Make allies around your idea “Agile or anything else.”
5. Do not forget the clients:
Don’t limit yourself to thinking internally. Clients need to learn agility with your organization as well. They can exude a lot of influence to help with the transformation.
6. Join a local agile user groups/Chapters:
A great source for help and support and you can invite other groups involved in the change to it. Interacting with agile people will not make the move sound like jumping off a cliff, but leaping towards the future.
7. Start small (if possible):
Utilizing the metrics in your organization to gauge project and product success, you can compare methodologies to showcase Agility superiority in the complex domain based on the objective and subjective metrics with a small team. A large team, or multiple teams, might require a lot that leadership might be reluctant to give without tangible results.
I would love to hear your experiences in agility transformations. If you believe I missed something important or don’t agree with me, please comment.