Strategy for Infusing agile Values in Organisations
Hi, my name is Wan. I’m a coach based in Singapore. In this video, I’m going to share with you a strategy for infusing Agile values in organizations. I’m sure all of us heard of Agile. It has become popular in the last few years, especially in IT departments. And the movement of Agile has been embraced by other departments as well, especially when the situation is volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous(VUCA). In this sharing, my focus is on helping organizations to embrace the values of Agile. The main motivation is I discovered the majority of sharing about Agile is about frameworks and methodologies. Hopefully, you get a few tips in helping your organization to embrace Agile values.
In this sharing, I will first talk about what are the Agile values, and common challenges in organizations for embracing agile values. Secondly, what can you expect from the proposed strategy? In this sharing I’m going to highlight three factors within the strategy. It’s by no means exhaustive. First is upgrading leadership in dealing with complexity that can be helping leaders from reactive tendencies to creative competencies through reframe and rebuild. Finally, is how could peer support be effective in encouraging Agile values. Well, in this sharing, I’m going to use the values shown in the Agile Manifesto. There are four. We prefer interactions among individuals over processes and tools. Second, “working solution” over comprehensive documentation. Third, cooperation with customers or stakeholders over negotiation of contracts. Fourth, responding to change, rather than following a plan.
And in Agile, besides Agile values, there are the other aspects of Agile as you can see on the screen. There are bubbles within bubbles. This is called Agile onion. At the lowest part is the tools and process and practice. You will commonly hear Scrum and Kanban being practiced by the Agile practitioners. The third layer is principles, principles in the Agile Manifesto. The fourth layer is values, as what I have shared in the previous slide. As we progress from the bottom to the top, it is more powerful to embrace values. Rather than just practicing some Agile ceremonies, tools or processes. On the other hand, it is also less complex to adopt Agile practices as compared to embracing Agile values. When I say complex I mean embracing Agile values in some way more components in a system are involved. This will be more complex and also more powerful, as the organisations moving towards learning organizations.
What are some challenges in infusing Agile values? I think all practitioners, Agile or not, and leaders, to embrace values usually take more time and take more effort. The challenge is definitely the project mindset, which everything must be in a set time bound, with explicitly stated activities and outcomes. That actually create a challenge, of the expectation was within a period which in promoting a value, we have less influence. Another challenge is the culture of emphasising on output, rather than on outcome. Output is like how much revenue, how fast we could complete a project and so on. I don’t mean output is not relevant or not important. I mean, the challenge for organizations to emphasize on output, other outcomes may be neglected. For example, the way people interact, how to respond to conflict. All these are not really visible and tangible outputs, but its outcome from our activities. In this project mindset, and emphasis on output also create challenges for middle level management. They are the ones who execute the initiatives and they also have to help organizations to embrace the values. So, they are actually stuck in between. How would they respond to conflicting or potential conflicting demands between outputs and embracing Agile values?
In this proposed strategy, there are three outcomes.
1) Flexibility, that means the strategy can be used in different environments or departments from portfolio management to delivery.
2) Inclusive. In this strategy, we are promoting everyone as a leader versus people with official titles as Leaders.
3) Scalable. That means, it can be used in smaller organizations to bigger, huge companies.
The first factor in this proposal is upgrade leadership. I believe in this strategy all of us need to be a leader. Small letter ‘l’ leader, doesn’t mean we have official titles. We all need to create values through leadership whether we have official titles. The reason being is in the article “Universal model of leadership” by the company, The Leadership circle, the company proposes that consciousness can evolve into higher order capacity to meet complexity. As I said in the previous slide, in the VUCA environment, complexity has been increased. In using the universal model of leadership, consciousness has to be evolved to a higher capacity. In the article, it is proposing that leaders move away from reactive tendencies to creative competencies for the majority of the organization. What do you mean reactive tendency? Reactive tendency is a style of leadership that emphasizes cautions for creating results, self protection, aggression over building alignment, limiting belief over gaining cooperation with others, protecting self and getting results through high control. And creative competency is how you achieve results by bringing out the best in other people, leading with vision, embracing self development with integrity and courage and improving organizations or systems effectiveness. By upgrading the leadership, especially the middle managers, from my experience, there’s a greater chance of success in infusing Agile values. As per the article by The Leadership Circle, to help the leaders to handle higher complexities, we need to upgrade their leadership from reactive to creative. And the outcome is that it is possible to attract funding for the long term project. If you’re interested to know where you are in your leadership development, check out this workshop, Your Leadership Development Blueprint. And there is a video, describing, explaining what is included in the leadership blueprint.
Photo : https://www.njlifehacks.com/reframe-your-world/
The second factor in the proposed strategy is reframe and rebuild. Reframe is a technique to help the leaders to see the situation from slightly different perspectives. And in the tool called Positive Intelligence, there are 10 major saboteurs. Based on my experiences, there are three common saboteurs among managers and leaders. First one is high-achiever. They emphasize on results over others including learning. Second is the Controller. They tend to want to make sure everyone follows his or her instructions, preferences in delivering results. Third is hyper rational. They tend to ignore emotions in working with people. Therefore become less effective in some situations. In the reframe you help the leader to observe the impacts of the saboteur on embracing agile values. For example, if a leader is demonstrating the tendency of high-achiever, that means emphasis is much more on the output. And less about Agile values, for example responding to change, working with customers or stakeholders, encouraging interaction among participants. And less emphasize one “working solution” rather than documentation. And once the saboteur of the leader is identified, you help them to see the negative impact of the saboteur and shift them to from reactive to creative. We emphasize using the right brain. As you know, many managers and leaders are left-brain thinkers. That means emphasizing on linear thinking, facts, logic. To be creative, we need to leverage on other intelligences like visualization, imagination and intuition. If you’re interested in reframe and rebuild, check out this program page, Reframe and Rebuild Program. More information is being shared in these videos, Reframe and Rebuild.
So far we have shared to help organisations to embrace Agile values, we need the leadership to be more creative and less reactive. Secondly, we are using the framework of reframe and rebuild to support the shift from reactive to creative. Third is a support structure, peer support structure to support scalability. That means if there are many leaders involved, then how would we enable the upgrade of leadership without spending too much resources. In the book, “Evolvagility” by Michael Hamman, he proposes the idea of a deliberate developmental environment. For example, in the leadership container, there are agents to facilitate learning. And there are structures to provide psychological support and psychological challenge, some methods and frameworks for learning. Based on my experiences, I am going to share with you a method, a tool called “Action Learning”, to support the leaders in transition from reactive to creative. In this methodology, there is a “problem presenter”. He is a person with a challenge. He is involved in the challenge. He places a high value in the outcome. And within a group, there are the members who help the presenter to reflect on the situation and to help the presenter be aware of the options, possibly create his or her own solution. And the third role in this action learning is the learning coach, observing interaction and exchange of information. In the process, identify opportunities for learning. To help us to embrace Agile values besides leadership competencies. I will propose the group to add in four Agile values so that in helping his or her(problem presenter) to resolve a challenge, we also learn about how we would demonstrate these values in this challenge.
Please let me summarize the strategy. It has three factors. The first is to upgrade the leadership from more reactive to more creative. This is achieved through the framework of reframe and rebuild. To support the leaders’ shift, in this video, I’m proposing using a deliberate developmental environment, like action learning. Thank you. If you’re interested to embrace Agile values in your organisation, I’m honored to be your shepherd. And here is my LinkedIn profile. Thank you for your attention.
3) Your Leadership Development Blueprint workshop : https://www.eventbrite.sg/e/your-leadership-development-blueprint-tickets-167258385333
4) Video for blueprint : https://youtu.be/fvzeMrr3Iy8
5) Reframe and Rebuild Program : https://www.eventbrite.sg/e/reframe-and-rebuild-tickets-167586456603
6) Video for reframe : https://youtu.be/pYnYtvCPFH4
7) Video for rebuild : https://youtu.be/Q5isSb7BVdE