Help!!! I’ve been Agile’d
So, your teams are in chaos, management is struggling to understand what is going wrong, the consulting firm you hired to implement an “Agile Transformation” has one foot out the door and you are stuck with a big fat bill. What do you do at this point?
The immediate reaction for a lot of organizations is to get rid of the consulting firm and find a way to get back to where the organization was before the transformation began. Failed transformations are real and examples can be found across every industry, which is why Agile has a bit of a black eye right now and here at Cinnovx we think we can help.
If you have not read my initial blog post “To Agile or not to Agile” found on the Cinnovx website I would encourage you to take 5 minutes and read it now. That post will tell you how Cinnovx approaches Agile transformation and is a good conversation starter for trying to figure a way out of your current situation, then come back and finish reading this post.
After many years as an Agile coach, trainer, and practitioner I can tell you, the leading cause of most Agile failures is leadership. I know that may be a tough thing to hear, but very few organizations can take a bottom-up approach to an Agile transformation. I will also give you another hard answer to hear for why the transformation is failing, it is not whatever tool you are using that is the cause of the failure. In 95% of the cases I have witnessed, tools simply amplify problems your organization is already having. The other 5% of the time, the tool is misconfigured and as soon as you get that resolved, guess what, the properly configured tool will now amplify the problems that already exist. It also probably is not your people. If you are in the midst of a failed Agile transformation, they are just as confused, exhausted, and frustrated as you are. The only difference is that they are looking for someone, hopefully you, to help them find a way out of the chaos they are in.
So, what do you do? The easy way out would be to fire or shutdown the contract of whoever was supposed to transform the organization. This is quick and easy, or long and litigious, but this will probably result in your organization/department losing millions, if not tens of millions of dollars, and the people who learned valuable lessons over the course of the failed transformation will depart, taking that knowledge with them. Let me reiterate that your organization just paid millions of dollars so that someone else could learn from the mistakes you just paid for. So, let us call that a less than ideal solution.
That is not to say you should not hold people, teams, and consultants accountable, but before making quick judgements, you need to understand what the consequences are, and Cinnovx can help you chart a path forward and, in some cases, salvage that knowledge and help build loyalty in those who realize it is ok to make mistakes if they learn from them and do better in the future.
We, at Cinnovx, believe that a failing Agile transformation requires an overall assessment of the goals, involvement of leadership, and tools and methodology used, in that order. This type of assessment will help you get a better insight into the reason(s) for where and why the goals and current situation are not aligned. We will start with understanding:
- The goals: What goals were set up, why are they important, and what did the organization hope to achieve with an Agile Transformation?
- Leadership: How did they lead the transformation, what sort of involvement did they have, did they participate in demonstrations, did they provide clear and measurable feedback, and how did they transform themselves into servant leaders?
- The tools: What tools were used to assist in the transformation, what methodology was selected, how did it align with the goals in step 1, and finally what organizational change management was used?
Only after assessing those answers will Cinnovx begin suggesting changes that are measurable, and you will have tools to measure the success of those changes, what the goals of the changes are, and how long the changes should take. Remember, we are looking at what strategies can move the organization back towards completing the Agile transformation, ensuring that the goals originally laid out can still be met, and then continue to guide the organization to a better future.
It is worth mentioning that if Cinnovx finds that leadership is not actually looking to transform themselves as part of the Agile transformation, our involvement will be limited. This is simply because an organization follows the culture set by leadership, and if you are not willing to walk the walk, then it will be better served if you and your Cinnovx representative have that discussion early. Agile transformations are not for every organization and not every organization is ready to transform. Cinnovx can explain in more detail what would be needed or, in such cases, Cinnovx will work with you to untangle the failed Agile transformation. It may be that a partial or hybrid transformation is right for your organization. If that is the case, Cinnovx will make recommendations and formulate a strategy to move the organization ahead, with a firm understanding of what a hybrid approach can and cannot accomplish, so that you can set appropriate goals for the organization.
If it sounds like having this type of discussion with one or several of the Cinnovx representatives would be of interest to you, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.