“…Congratulations! Management is ready to adopt Agile. Soon, we shall be an Agile Team. We’ll adopt the Agile way of work, stop traditional practices & become a high performing team …”
These talks, from a team, are quite exciting as they are about to start The Agile Transformation Journey. But is it as simple as it sounds? Is this Transformation quite linear? Are there any challenges to achieve this change?
I believe, CHANGE always comes from CHALLENGE; You need to attack the core of CHALLENGE i.e. LLE. The same is true for The Agile Journey.
As an Agile Coach, I helped my team with their Agile Transformation journey using these 3 steps:
L – Losing
L – Love
E – Educate
Until the team understands what they are losing now & why Agile needed, the adoption may not be taken seriously, and the efforts may not come from bottom of the heart. So firstly, I will discuss the current problems & reasons why these problems occur. In the past, I did this by having sessions with the team. The most common problems found in teams were:
By discussing these problems, I gained a personal bond with the team, being someone who understands their issues. This gave them a ray of hope that these issues can be solved. The objective of the first step was to win the trust of team, by taking the role of someone who is there to protect them.
Here, it is important to understand that an Agile Coach or a Scrum Master are enablers. It is the team who will collectively make effort to bring about change, and this can only be done when the team has reason, hope and willingness to do so.
The second step is to let the team know how Agile can solve the problems they are currently facing. We need to present Agile in a way that they will be able to apply what they have learnt to their current problems. However, if we just reiterate Manifesto & Principles, people may lose interest & find it too “textbook”. I wanted them to Love Agile and so I took the below initiatives:
A) Use Interesting Examples:
B) Concept Clarity using Games & Story Telling
C) Touching the Nerves:
Above #A & #B helped the team to understand the soul of Agile and by this point, they started talking Agile. Now, it was time to showcase how Agile can solve their problems discussed previously in the “Losing” section. We had many Q&A sessions on how Agile can help us:
The last step to adopting Agile is educating and helping the teams to implement practices. It is a Bi-Dimensional approach which focuses on – Doing Agile (adopt practices) and Being Agile (a change of mindset by cultivating values & principles).
I believe we can’t avoid any of these. ‘Doing’ is important to maintain the deliveries and ‘Being’ is important to transform the culture and mindset of the team. Our Agile adoption efforts included both. I trained, coached, and taught the teams by organizing dedicated interactive sessions.
The idea is to make the team understand and execute practices and at the same time develop psychologies and values in their mind.
Below are the few moments, the teams and I at RSK-BSL spent:
During my journey of helping teams in their Agile Transformation, I realized these 3 steps are the core to success. It is not the journey from Traditional to Agile, rather it is the journey of Earning Trust and Cultivating Team Spirit which can be achieved by practising Values, understanding Principles & executing practices.
Once Netflix CEO said –
“Do not tolerate brilliant jerk. The cost of teamwork is too high.”
As a Scrum Master, I helped many teams in their Agile journey, and I believe:
“A SM is successful only when her/his team is in a condition where SM is not required.”
And so my journey goes on…
Praveen is a seasoned IT Solutions Leader and Director at RSK Business Solutions, a technology-driven IT Consulting Company that specializes in Bespoke Software Development, Agile Consulting, Mobile App Development, Smart Sourcing, and much more. For the last 17 years, he has been delivering quality custom IT solutions that help businesses achieve their goals.