Appetite for Change

WRITTEN BY Mike Cottmeyer

Change is hard and many people do not have an appetite for change. Transitioning to Agile involves a lot: new thinking, processes, practices and tools.

So managers and Agile coaches provide training. They introduce the Agile Manifesto and Principles. They talk about ideas like Flow, cadence and light weight documentation. They introduce new practices and language. They even share success stories of how it works in other places.

Then a few teams are organized and the coaches help implement the new processes, practices and tools. We are on a roll. All this is going to lead to a better way of delivering value.

But we need to remember Agile is about individuals and interactions. We have to deal with the human side of change. Training and coaching on practices is necessary and important. But we can get too caught up in practices and slight the people. When working in larger organizations like I do, this can be an even bigger problem.

While facilitating training and coaching, try three things to help people experience how process and tools support interactions. This focus on people will help foster an appetite for change.

First, explain some benefits of an Agile Transformation this way.

  • Business wants predictable and improved throughput
  • Customers want quick lead times for quality product
  • Teams want a good working environment where they can contribute and succeed

Second, challenge people to stop doing things or at least defer doing things. A lot of what people have always done is unnecessary especially those organizations focused on comprehensive documentation, contract negotiation and following a plan. The trick is helping people discover what to stop doing and what they can do instead to contribute.

Third, listen to what is not said and look into their eyes for comprehension to feel their fear and uncertainty. Resistance often stems from these emotions. With this understanding, we deal with resistance in a more productive way.

Foster an appetite for change in your Agile transformation.

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2 comments on “Appetite for Change”

  1. Jessica Fenn

    You made some good points, but it can often be big problem getting everyone on board with transitioning to Agile! We’ve tried TFS, JIRA, SmartBear and are currently running Countersoft Gemini, with which we have seen some good results going all-in with agile.

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