The Other Side of Agile Energy

There are two sides to every story. Nowhere is that more apparent than in a Lean-Agile transformation.  Last time, we talked about how leaders can either block the energy of Agile teams or create a path for it.

The other side of that story is the team perspective. In large IT organizations, stories of teams going around “the system” abound. They were told to “go for it” with changing the way they do IT, and so they did, with energy not seen in decades. They got organized, and then asked for…say, money for Scrum training, and for an Agile coach to support their formative days. Then they were told no. Or, a definite maybe. Wait and see. Determined, the teams found a way to get what they needed anyway. Perhaps with a different vendor, maybe even with a different flavor of Agile.

Like when a tree’s energy is blocked, it finds other ways to grow. There may be more than one trunk, branches taking on a deformed status, and growth is often stunted.

Is there a way to not take no for an answer from your leaders, without going rogue? I’m not talking passive aggressive “we’ll fix them” stuff. No one has time for that, although it can be very cathartic…

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I offer a few simple ways for teams to keep pushing and growing, without compromising the health of the Agile transformation.

-Meet people where they are on business value. This goes for both sides of the fence. Change is hard. Old behaviors crop up. Gain understanding of the sponsor’s vision and path. You may find you are closer than you think.

-Then when you do challenge, do it with purpose and connection to business value. Your sponsors will be more willing to listen if they can see where your teams are in the value stream.

-Find a change champion. Who has the energy and political capital to influence, and relentlessly push? Who can connect your needs to the higher cause?

-Be transparent about your intent. If we can get funding, we can do X, which connects to the vision by…. If we can’t get funding, we can still do X, but it’s going to look like this… Lay it out and be honest about your path.

None of these ideas are a sure thing to get what you want, but they can help you build relationships to build your case. What you are doing is incredibly hard. And if it’s hard for teams, it’s killing your leaders.

Don’t roll over and do nothing. Most Agile transformations don’t happen lying down.


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