I have been working with a client who have failed at adopting agile twice before asking for help from agile coach (me). You would think they had no chance of failure as all ducks were lined up perfectly for them: the training was done by acclaimed trainer, the management was all supportive and the team was producing digital products using natural agile tools. Yet the morale was low, the team was unhappy and things weren’t being delivered.
Being both curious and determined to find the cause of such unfortunate fail, I have conducted my own research and found out a few things that went wrong
- Team have received the training but it was focused on describing framework and patterns to follow it rigorously
- There were no coaching or any other post training support for the team
- Same applies for management; nobody was coaching them into agile way of thinking. Without that support management kept falling back onto traditional management ways which was causing more confusion with everything
I have started working with them in #noframeworks approach where I simply started coaching them through series of small cultural changes and results did not take long to surprise.
A job of Enterprise Agile Coach can be compared to a plumber. Here’s how the most common conversation with management goes:
Manager: “We have this team who is under-performing here, could you please get them working faster?”
Coach: “Tell me more about how the work comes to the team, number of projects going in parallel, and what customer are they delivering to?”
Manager: “That is none of your concern -changing processes are outside of my responsibilities – just fix this poorly performing team, will you?”
At this point an experienced plumber – or Agile coach – will understand that a clogged drain is really a symptom of old, rusty plumbing underneath and there will be heaps of drilling down of cement, tearing of old tiles and other major renovations involved.
That’s why deploying a particular framework over existing culture, processes and tools is never a solution to low productivity.
That’s also why trusting your enterprise agile coach to diagnose and fix the root cause is in your best interest.
Coming back to my awesome client from the start of the post. I have had enough trust from the management to slowly, but incrementally, help the organisation solve the following
- Stop multi tasking (there were few teams members who were allocated to 12 projects at the same time)
- Agile mindset and ways of working
- Upgrade technical tools and adopt modern age best practices
- Start discovering real customer and embark upon the journey of never ending customer delight
- Empower single person to be decision maker ( reduce number of approvals, speed up decision making process)
- Financial model to support capacity funded team
- Adaptive planning
Once the things above were fixed, an organisation received a high performing, cohesive team that is happy with the way they work and delivers value to a customer quickly. As you can see from the list above, #noframeworks goes above and beyond setting up Kanban walls and get stand ups going.