Friday, March 21, 2014

Packing List for Your Agile Journey - Change

The Ten Speakers in the Series

Packing List

Today Gil Broza interviewed me about "embracing change", as the 9th interview out of ten hour long interviews in his series called: "Packing List for Your Agile Journey".
Subscribers get the ability to listen live or offline, access to transcripts. Gil asks each speaker to focus on one topic, so the overall series has a great balance of topics for listeners who want advice and ideas for starting or improving an agile implementation.
The topics are: Organizational support, enabling collaboration, feedback loops, whole product thinking, quality, technical excellence, get-to-done mentality, culture, change and values.

Some of the Things We Talked About

Gil asked me about change - how agile helps you deal with change, what types of change do we deal with or worry about, how did we (and still do) change an organization to become agile?
Some of the insights I can now recall without having a transcript of the call:

  • People don't really resist change. They resist change that's imposed or seem arbitrary.
  • Agile is designed to deal with changes in what you do, and encourage you to change how you do the work. It's less prescriptive about how to change to agile, which is essentially a cultural change
  • Understanding and buying into the values and principles of Agile is much more essential than mastering a specific practice or ritual. Going through the rituals mechanically is equivalent to a "cargo cult", and will yield very little improvement, if any.
  • Working in a large and distributed organization such as Software AG, there were a few observations:
    • Sometimes a cultural difference is felt more after a merger/acquisition, than across geography and nation
    • The challenges include quick integration of products, organizational changes (due to M&A), and building and maintaining trust when people are in different locations and timezones
    • Having a senior manager who "gets it" and can point the direction and set priorities is invaluable 
    • We have a "Change Agents" team who represented all locations, got together and got deep coaching and continued to function as a virtual team. This team was very helpful quickly getting the whole organization to learn the principles and coach people to start experimenting with the process. It also helped building trust across locations.
  • We invested much in values, culture, lean principles and teamwork training - more than any specific practice
  • Push back if you feel you are about to do something dumb
  • A Responsibility stance (Avery) or Being Proactive (Covey) is essential to successfully dealing with change 
I'm likely to update this page after having the transcript to maybe reflect the content a bit more accurately.

More Questions

I'll be happy to get comments on this post from anyone in the audience who'd like to expand on anything I mentioned or ask more.

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