How to detect if agile change is succeeding or failing

Door Patrick Verheij

Many companies now “do agile”. Whatever that means. It usually involves Scrum, or so it seems. And Kanban. And of course standups and the lot. Awesome.\r\n\r\nHowever, as many companies ask themselves: “Are we now more successful than before we started this agile thing?”\r\n\r\nThat’s a good question which may be hard to answer. Or is it?\r\n\r\nFirst of all, you could look at the results you get. Do they satisfy you? Are those results better than ever before? Are the improved results consistent?\r\n\r\nWhen you answer such questions with an astounding “yes, of course!”, then you might be well on your way. You may even start asking additional questions like “are our results improving consistently?” to check whether the agile change has any lasting effect.\r\n\r\nIf, for whatever reason, you do not yet see any change in results, your best bet would be to look at people’s behaviour. And with that I do not suggest that you should see people “happily doing standups” or “working frantically” or even “genuinely smiling while presenting results”, even though these things can be of utter importance.\r\n\r\nWhat I do mean is that you witness people solving problems all over the place. You hear their brains crack. You overhear them pondering possible solutions. You see them looking for clues. You see them solve problems and report their glory with or without pride. And above all, you hear them ask for help after clearly explaining what’s bothering them and why they can’t yet solve something themselves.\r\n\r\nIn an agile organization, people are constantly on the lookout for improvements. They are not afraid to question existing rules, regulations, processes, and organizational structures. They made it a habit to ask “why” things are as they are. They aren’t satisfied with answers like “it’s just as it is”, especially if the status quo hinders their work.\r\n\r\nSuch an attitude requires immense commitment to a job. It actually requires more than a job. It requires a purpose. No, not just a purpose: a grande purpose.\r\n\r\nAlas, some organizations never get to such a point and keep struggling.\r\n

Your agile journey is failing because your habit to keep doing what you always did is far greater than the pain you experience.

\r\nMany people, even those trained in agile, are numbed because although they are encouraged to improve, they are not encouraged (enough) to question the status quo. They have many limiting beliefs about the organization they work for and receive little help in removing these. Such limiting beliefs live on all levels within an organization and people are often not even aware of them.\r\n\r\nAsk anyone within an organization anything about his or her work. Listen carefully. Then what do you hear? Is it a story about change or working towards change? Or is it the harsh sound of a limiting belief?\r\n\r\nAnd then? What do you do?\r\n\r\nYou can get a long way with implementing some nice agile practices and living a bunch of agile principles without truly addressing continuous improvement. Whether you are the CEO or the janitor, the organization you work for is all yours to change.

Patrick Verheij

06 59 443 447

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