Executives for the 2020s sensitively disregard some principles that guided managers through the 1920s. And they have better questions to ask, questions that leave the growth of agility unhindered.
As Marshall Goldsmith says, "what got you here won't get you there."
Everyone heard the stories of firms that got disrupted out of business. Copy-and-paste-agility is a freight train to extinction. Maybe you hope your organization won't become one of those stories. As W. Edwards Deming said, "survival" is optional.
Consider these five tips for the 2020s:
1). Be customer-centric and find out what's going on. Naked transparency is ugly. If there are no problems, you're not looking hard enough.
2). Don't impose. If you do install agility, without continuous improvement, it's not agility anyhow.
3). Make sure the plumbing is squeaky clean -- avoid or cancel "fat burgers." Treat every valuable work item as a bet -- some bets win, most bets lose. Make small bets, parallel bets. You also need experimentation to validate assumptions before clogging the pipes with more ideas. Whatever is in the pipes, let it flow well by being focused on finishing work before starting more work. Fix impediments and spend most of your time fixing organizational problems. If you don't, you can expect to lose your best people.
4). Be careful about measurement. Figure out a way to measure the number of inspired people, perhaps through the number of inspirational stories? I haven't figured out how to do that yet.
5). Invite people, understand their work, let them become informed about the options for agility, let them decide how they want to work, and support continuous improvement. Tolerate and expect different pockets of the organization to use different types of Agile/Lean. It's ok and expected to be ruthless about value. Be compassionate - happy employees & suppliers help to make satisfied customers.
Best of luck with your journey! If you'd like some help, reach out to the beautiful community of Professional Agile Leadership trainers & coaches at Scrum.org.
Check out the full series at https://medium.com/series/how-leaders-show-up-8042c57cbd6.
By John Coleman
Keywords: Agile, Culture, Leadership