Agile Transformation is a Journey (Part 6)

Part of what makes an agile transformation difficult is the cultural change required. That’s what makes an agile transformation a journey.

A client said to me, “I want the agile. The agile is good stuff: faster delivery of smaller stuff that we can get revenue for. I want it now. How fast can I get it?”

This manager is not stupid. He’s using terms that might sound funny to some of us, “the agile,” but he’s got the right idea. And, if he was just talking about a project framework, maybe he could get it fast.

Agile approaches change the organizational system of work and the organization’s culture. They change what makes sense to measure. They change the system of work, which leads to changes in how you reward people.

Cultural change rarely occurs fast. Instead, it’s two steps forward and one step back. Sometimes, you might feel as if you’re going in circles.

Cultural change is a journey. It requires us to practice personal change and organizational change.

If we know our “why” for agile approaches, we can ask the questions that allow us to change our measurements for teams and managers. We can use double-loop learning to deliver something and then challenge our assumptions, learn and replan.

I wrote a scaling series of posts last year to show how your journey might proceed. I don’t know of a journey that does not start with teams. However, depending on your questions from your why, you might proceed in a “non-linear” fashion. As with all agile cultural change, your journey is your own, too.

I have seen that in transformations, the change artists do need to address how to help people practice change. The change artists need to see the system and create measurements, possibly several sets of measurements, to help change the culture. This is a journey, not a destination.

As things change in the organization, people will experiment with different changes. The measures you need will change. As the culture changes, the measures to reinforce the culture you want will change. The journey continues.

If your organization’s agile journey seems to be stuck, please join Gil Broza and me at the Influential Agile Leader workshop in Boston, June 7-8, 2018. The early bird registration ends May 1, 2018.

You’ll have a chance to assess your progress, your system, and culture. Once you do that, you’ll be able to create action plans that will unstick your agile transformation. Do join us

Published on Java Code Geeks with permission by Johanna Rothman , partner at our JCG program. See the original article here: Agile Transformation is a Journey, Part 6

Opinions expressed by Java Code Geeks contributors are their own.

Johanna Rothman

Johanna consults, speaks, and writes about managing product development. She helps managers and leaders do reasonable things that work. You can read more of her writings at
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