All organisational journeys begin with a simple step. Contrary to what we see today, one of the FIRST steps which should be considered when starting your journey to becoming Agile is, “how do we bring the rest of the organisation along with us?”. Asking your team or broader organisation to change the fundamentals of how they assess, plan, build and deliver to the market is just as much a soft change as it is a technical one.
So, when announcing to your team and the world at large that you’re becoming an Agile organisation; how will you ensure the transition is not only well managed, but lasting?
First, as covered several times before in many forums, communicating the decision to your stakeholders is pivotal to build buy-in. Articulating the rational, answering why the need for change has arrived, and why the right moment to act is now, will help reduce potential for resistance up-front and instead encourage thinking that is constructive and optimistic. Tied in with clearly demonstrable links to company values and the organisation’s guiding principles – whether they be the mission statement, company values or cultural expectations – will underscore and enhance the genuine motivators for change; highlighting the true value sought to be achieved. Alternatively, omitting this crucial link, the message may be construed as initiating change for the sake of change, or a decision simply driven by achieving financial goals, shifting momentum quickly from pull to push. Winning the hearts and minds of the organisation will set a strong framework, from which the technical transition can be successfully launched.
At it’s very core, Agile and new ways of working is all about empowerment, autonomy and team self-management. In conjunction to formal training to building competency across agile tools and techniques, as a leader, take a leaf from the agile approach and check-in regularly with those undertaking the journey. Ask questions and understand what support can be given to drive the continued transition; this can be achieved through one-on-ones, team meetings or via a Change Champion model – how your engagement takes place will vary in your workplace, its culture and the transitional acceptance built up to that point. In doing so, just like your teams who will be beginning to regularly survey the business’ customers; sampling your customer (i.e. the team) effectively will assist in determining what iteration to take next and in what priority your ‘backlog’ should form at that point of the transition. Let your people tell you what needs be done to help embed the behavioural change and perform as successful agents of change.
From this base of a well-considered, well communicated and well understood mission, begin to lead, and not manage the change. Show the team the Management group truly cares and is motivated to make the transition stick, through demonstrating what new ways of working calls for, and in turn, expect to be engaged in the same way. Through attending daily stand-ups, speaking the language and adjusting of expectations based on new role types, the team will be left with no doubt of Leadership’s intent to not only use Agile, but to be agile in everything they do.
What next? Test and learn. Run retrospectives, is Agile working? Have the courage and awareness to recognise that perhaps agile can’t be wholly applied to everything your business does. Listen to your people, monitor the results and modify where necessary, using other methodologies which may enable certain deliverables to be brought to market in a way which achieves the objectives better.
Finally, how do we do it at Agile Management Office (AMO)? When helping our clients make adjustments to their process, procedure and systems, to bring all aspects of delivery and governance up to pace with more agile ways of working; we begin with developing a deep understanding of the drivers and rationale for the brief, then adjusting our proprietary methodology to fit the needs and aspirations of the organisation. Building trust and regular engagement through a continuous feedback loop, as a result our AMO specialists gain a holistic view to map out the journey ahead, then work with you to deliver, measuring results along the way.