Freshly returned from the Agile Tour Bangkok 2023, an event where Agile practitioners convene not just to network but to assimilate diverse perspectives. A noteworthy session by Michael Chik, titled “How McKinsey Made Me a Better Agile Coach,” brought forth insights worth pondering, offering a novel take on critical aspects.
Acknowledging the reality: Agile Coaches often operate within a confined space. The epiphanies about how Agile can unravel the intricacies of our professional lives can spark fervor akin to religious zeal. However, this passion, observed in organizational contexts, is often perceived as an impediment to performance, inadvertently transforming Agile Coaches into quasi-policing figures.
Unveiling the True Essence of Agile
Michael encapsulated this dilemma as “Nobody wants Agile.” The crux? The fixation on achieving agility can overshadow the essence of Agile itself. The revelation is profound: Agile, per se, isn’t the ultimate goal. Organizations striving for agility as a conclusive objective frequently fall short. Treating it as a project might yield initial results, but, as demonstrated by General Electric, without embracing the underlying values and principles, each organizational hiccup drags them back.
Corporate leaders and C-level executives aren’t yearning for Agile; their hunger is for tangible outcomes: augmented revenue, robust profits, fortified collaboration, and a flourishing organizational culture. Agile serves as a conduit to reach these destinations.
Guidance for Agile Coaches, according to Michael:
- Prioritize precisely: We are more successful, if we align our actions and activities to the business outcomes. If you have a list of priorities, but need to re-plan your activities, whenever you meet a challenge, your priorities were maybe not aligned with the business results.
- From Chicken to Pig: Embrace commitment. Share organizational KPIs, OKRs, or, more strategically, visions. Shoulder accountability for tangible outcomes. Eschew fabricated Agile Maturity Assessments, adopting co-accountability for business results.
- Beyond Training: While Agile transformations often commence with training sessions, the transformative impact is stunted without sustained support and follow-up. Learning materializes when knowledge is applied to context, not merely absorbed.
- Top-Down Influence: Bottom-up initiatives, while commendable, are insufficient. True change necessitates Agile Coaches to wield influence over the organizational structure and system, transcending mere practice adjustments. (Refer to my prior article for an in-depth exploration of this theme.)
The crux? Nobody wants Agile. What they crave are tangible, measurable business results. As Agile Coaches, our mandate extends beyond mere methodology; it encompasses navigating the complexities with finesse and unwavering commitment to achieving genuine, business-altering success.