It’s really hard to copy another actor and be successful. In fact, that’s usually the reason people are not good, because they’re copying something they’ve seen, but, for some reason with their face and their body, it doesn’t work. Jesse Eisenberg
Some clients call me: “hey, I need to implement agile” because they have been told it really works. Many believe “agile” will solve all their problems magically; and they are surprised because my first response usually is: “let’s have a conversation and see what I can help you with”. As we are chatting and they tell me how they are working, about the issues they want to overcome, improvement points and so on; they realize at that moment that the transformation will not be immediate: it has nothing to do with going to a mall, putting it all in the cart, paying and enjoying.
It won’t happen overnight, we have to make it happen, work for it.
Spotify to go, please
Spotify is famous for their successful kaizen culture. Another case is ING (financial services), which has implemented “the Spotify model”, with specialized tribes which turn business objectives into reality and squads teams guided by an agile coach.
Ok, but it works, right? Why not replicate it?
Some time ago I heard: “if you don’t sell music in the internet the Spotify model is not for you” Copy and pasting models is like trying the Cinderella’s shoe on. You might be lucky enough for it to fit you; one in a million chances. The rest of us mortals have to try on several pairs of shoes before we find the one that fits perfectly.
Replicating a work system exactly as they do it in another part of the world (generally) won’t suit your needs, because your company is unique, the people which work in your organization are unique, their values, their culture, their motivations and interests are unique. Of course, you can share and investigate about similar issues they had and how they solved them that can give you an idea about how to work out your own unique and particular problem. You can also extrapolate the basics as a map to follow a similar trail and design experiments to enable a smart failure, put ideas to test, correct and repeat.
Surfing the change curve
- Stagnation (Paralysis)
This change curve will also be presented in an agile way, the first stages will be specially highlighted in the first iteration, and we will use them as the base for the next revolutionary steps.
In stages 1 and 2, Stagnation and Preparation, we listen to and observe their reactions to change without judgment. We simply let the people involved express their feelings, complaints, purge their emotions into catharsis; not for so long, though. Resistance is inevitable and you have to be aware and alert to prevent a negative state to be contagious to the rest of the teams. We can use our coaching skills to neutralize the arguments and turn tables to focus on the benefits this change will have once the whole company is transformed.
From the beginning make a clear statement: things will change around here, explain the future and desired state and the boons to be expected from this transformation. You can also describe these stages, without going into too much detail so as not to generate false expectations, because every organization has their own way and time to transcend their boundaries.
Particularly during the Preparation we will model and reframe the actual conditions into an agile mindset to establish the basics for the next phase. I like to make some games and simulations during this lap to enable the mind openness to new ideas, paradigms and rethinking their environment.
In phase 3, Implementation, we start the evolution through iterations. We go deeper into the roles, processes, tools and we cocreate little improvement experiments to be tested. We start with a couple of teams and brainstorm, design new experiences and form the teams.
In stage 4, Determination, we measure the results, inspect and solve conflicts, analyze the failures and success produced by these exploration labs.
In the final lap of the iteration, Fruition, we capture all the lessons learned and recycle them as components for new experiments, we reflect about the changes and keep on innovating. We celebrate our conquests as a team and as an organization, and codesign the plans for the next iteration.
During this whole process you will notice how every person goes thru these phases at their own pace. We can take this opportunity to empower the individuals who are more advanced in some aspects of the process to help the others, and cultivate the brotherhood spirit together. There will be some people who feels they are losing control of the situation, or losing power, prestige, trust, value; and it is our responsibility as coaches to help them be part of the process and collaborate towards a healthy teamwork culture. Everybody has to be an starring actor of the change.