Newly formed organizations have the benefit of hiring teams, forming culture, and building structure from scratch. Mature organizations do not have this advantage and to stay competitive with newer startups will rely on change initiatives for a rebirth to bring back the spark they once had.
Many of these companies are attempting to become agile, nimbler, leaner or more customer-responsive with varying degrees of success. The struggle, I believe, for these organizations to truly change occurs when leaders are not ready for what becoming Agile will bring – the amplification of both the good and bad behaviors from their current situation.
If you have hired well, the amplification will result in a near immediate boost in a sense of empowerment and productivity for your people. Bright, hard working people thrive on Agile teams. The reaction to this amplification must be a letting go of control by leaders and of overwhelming encouragement from your leaders.
If your organization has not hired well, the amplification will put a spotlight on those who have not been performing or are not good teammates. The reaction must be a hard look at current hiring practices and your approach to performance management (if you can really “manage” performance at all). Fresh thinking from leaders will be needed in this space.
If your technology has been allowed to grow in complexity and fragility, the amplification will be in frustration. Agile teams will begin to increase the throughput of production-ready code but will not be able to realize customer value quickly enough. The reaction must be simplification and a shift to being “anti-fragile.”
If there is a history of having a fractured or siloed organization, the divide between groups will be more apparent than ever. The reaction from leadership must be to foster and facilitate reconciliation and connection. Don’t expect people “to go figure it out.” Rather, become a model for the behaviour your people need. Bring people together. Solve things together.
If there is a lack of vision, direction, or prioritization, the amplification will reveal a craving for it. The reaction must be to discover what the organization should be passionate about and provide the motivation to achieve it. Agile teams respond amazingly well to a well-crafted and well-communicated vision.
Leaders, be ready for and react to what will be amplified during your transformation to Agile. Meaningful, lasting change and more importantly, your people, will depend on it.