We’ve been around long enough to witness more than a few failed transformations. Often it’s from ignoring essential elements of the Agile Manifesto: collaboration, adaptation and customer-centricity. Drawing from a lightning talk at AgileAustralia 2023, here are 8 ways to Fail accompanied by recommendations for Success.
#8 Try to Do Everything, Everywhere, All at Once
Failure means overwhelming teams with an avalanche of new and unfamiliar practices across the whole organisation at the same time.
Success demands a thoughtful and phased approach, focusing on incremental improvements while continually learning and adapting.
#7 Ignore the data
Failure means choosing to operate in the dark by skipping benchmarking, relying on intuition and assumption, and ignoring any objective measures of success.
Success requires data-driven decision-making, utilising tools like AgilityHealth Radars for benchmarking at the start and at regular intervals, along with clear metrics like transformation OKRs (Objectives and Key Results) to both qualify and quantify progress.
#6 Ignore the influencers
To fail, ignore the valuable insights of your influencers, leaders and thought leaders, and carry on with ill-informed choices.
To succeed, embrace these individuals – especially the influencers who have a lot of social capital even if they are not in leadership positions. They are key to shaping, driving, and accelerating transformation. Prioritise their leadership development, coaching and accountability.
#5 Ignore the humans
Failure means neglecting the needs of the very people who ARE the organisation. It means disregarding emotions, resistance, and individual growth.
Success requires effective change management, a clear plan for employee engagement, and nurturing a culture of trust and collaboration.
#4 Just change the role titles
Failure is changing the titles without changing the responsibilities. It may be quick but it doesn’t deal with the ineffective practices that got you started on your journey in the first place.
Success requires redefining roles and responsibilities in alignment with new principles and constructs. It requires building capability and confidence in those who are stepping into those roles through training, mentoring and coaching.
#3 Hide your failures
True failure requires denying risk and pretending everything will go perfectly.
Success requires transparent, safe, regular, and clear communication channels that facilitate sharing failures so others can learn from them too.
#2 Push change on people
Failure means forcing (and micromanaging) change on others, at your convenience, without their active involvement.
Success entails cultivating a fertile environment where people can pull changes that make sense to them when they are ready for it. This often means packaging patterns and know-how and allowing teams to pull what they need, when they need it, with proper support.
#1 Blindly adopt the Spotify model
Or any out-of-the box scaling model for that matter! To guarantee failure, blindly adopt someone else’s model without considering its applicability to your organisation’s unique context. (One-size does not fit all and does not magically solve all transformation challenges).
Success requires critical thinking and experimentation to learn and customise what works for you as you create “Your Agile”. Perhaps there are micro-changes that will help deliver value faster and provide quick wins before jumping into comprehensive Value Stream reorganisation.
Following these losing formulas is easy enough. They embrace the opposite of agile principles and inevitably lead to frustration, disillusionment, and failure. Keep the recommendations for success in mind and remember, if you need help that’s what EPiC’s here for!