Top 5 Agile change tips #4 - Support the initiative

Posted by Marcus Hammarberg on October 11, 2012
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This is the second post on my top 5 ways of making sure that your agile change initiative succeeds. But this is not ideas made up in my head (MY GOD - the horrors...) but things that I've tried and failed miserably with. Over and over. And learned a lot from.

This is the list - in order of importance:
  1. Get a great "Or else"-reason for doing this change
  2. Sit together
  3. Let them change how they work
  4. Support the initiative (this post)
  5. Use visualised data to improve

This is the second post on my top 5 ways of making sure that your agile change initiative succeeds. But this is not ideas made up in my head (MY GOD - the horrors...) but things that I've tried and failed miserably with. Over and over. And learned a lot from.

This is the list - in order of importance:
  1. Get a great "Or else"-reason for doing this change
  2. Sit together
  3. Let them change how they work
  4. Support the initiative (this post)
  5. Use visualised data to improve

#4 Support the initiative

This should be a no brainer but once you see it in action it's seldom handled correctly. 

If you want to change how people act and work you have to be a role model for that, supporting the new ways. This means that the change must start with management. Yes - start. No - it is not enough that they are informed, on a need-to-know basis. They need to know how to support the teams to improve. To help them avoid falling back into the old ways of working. 

Before somebody says it; I know that I just (#3) said that you should let people organize themselves in the way they see fit. But such freedom need to be supported from above. So we have a vision (the WHY) and support for the change from above and the actual change happening organically from the bottom up. 

Let me give an example on what I mean:
If we saw that we're going to create a learning organization we need to make room for that learning. Managers must support this and for example, allow for slack. Managers cannot say that we want to create a learning organization and at the same time require that everybody are shipping in the required hours. That is sending two signals at once. 
The support from above need to be given on the floor. Walking around, being interested, asking questions and coaching the teams to continue improving. Hmmm - sounds like the things that a boss should be doing, right? 

There are strong forces at play here. At one client I was told not to talk about slack and learning since that manager had his bonus calculated from the allocation percentage of his employees. If they worked 100% he got more money. Even if they did stupid, non productive work. And learned nothing. 
But we were going to create a learning organization...  
It doesn't add up. 

So in order to succeed I would say that everybody above the teams need to not only know what going on, but also be trained enough to give the support and coaching that the organization needs. So that we are sure we're not sending the wrong signals. 
It goes without saying that we need to buy into this. You need a great "or else"-reason. Starting to see that it's important, huh?

Summary

This was the fourth post in my series of top 5 things to think about to succeed with agile transformation projects  

  1. Get a great "Or else"-reason for doing this change
  2. Sit together
  3. Let them change how they work
  4. Support the initiative (this post)
  5. Use visualised data to improve


Published by Marcus Hammarberg on Last updated