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Real challenges to overcome in Agile adoption

03 December 2021

By Laurent Speyser.

Agile adoption faces some issues common to all change. Organizational leaders in particular can help avoid the pitfalls of traditional change management, reduce risk and increase the chances of success.

This success is possible by overcoming two major challenges…

Challenge #1 : Engage people in change

Almost all Agile transformations fall into the trap of IMPOSING Agile. As a result, the promises of Agile are not kept and the transformation is a total FAILURE.

What is the key success factor for any change?

Do it with ENGAGED (motivated) people!

How to maximize people’s engagement to change?

By INVITING to make this change!

INVITATION triggers decision making. Decision-making triggers engagement.

The hypothesis of Invitation-Based Change is that people who resist the change might support it if we invite them to become a character in the story and even as an (co)author of the emerging (not yet unwritten) story.

You might be thinking… people who know NOTHING about Agile need to be TOLD how to do it and SUBMIT to that learning. They know NOTHING.

But wait! Is every beginning Agile _student _FORCED to learn or DO they CHOOSE to be there?

We believe that Invitation-Based Change is the most respectful approach and the one with the most genuine and sustainable results. It is therefore essential to support the organization’s leaders to learn how to invite to change, name the direction, and set guardrails to secure the path. The art of inviting may be the most important leadership skill required these days…

Challenge #2 : Develop a culture of continuous improvement

Agile transformations almost always fail because, like any big project, they carry BIG RISKS, trying to take TOO BIG STEPS… and FOR WHAT RESULTS?

– The importance of small steps –

On the right side, before I could "do agile", when in my organization I trained dozens or hundreds of people in Agile, hired Scrum Masters, Agile Coaches, expert consultants and deployed an Agile Framework "at scale", created new roles, new structures and processes, … What did I ACHIEVE? What did I LEARN? How much did it COST (finance and people)? How much TIME did it take? How did I improve the PERFORMANCE of the organization? Do I only have the right to FAIL?

On the other side (left), if a manager or a team has experimented with and adopted a single practice that improves or simplifies their day-to-day work. If they can demonstrate this benefit or share it to the rest of the organization… if we ask ourselves the same questions?

We are convinced that developing a culture of improvement, based on small, regular and frequent enough steps, offers many benefits:

  • Make it easier to get into action (because less afraid)
  • Reduce cost and risk
  • Give the right to fail (because not fatal)
  • Allow for feedback and learning
  • Promote the engagement of people and the emergence of better solutions
  • Bring out the sense of progress necessary for every individual

Here again, it is essential to support the formal leaders of the organisation (managers in particular), who have a major role to play in authorising, supporting and ideally embodying this culture themselves.

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