Why won’t teams be Agile?

Why won't teams be Agile?

Right now, I'm working on enterprise Agile transformation across a large business area. One day, one of the senior managers called me into their impromptu leadership team meeting and admitted to me something the completely surprised me...

"We are not fully committed to Agile....in fact, it's a waste of time...."

What surprised me is that firstly, to admit this in an environment where Agile is being pushed hard by leadership is not easy. This manager have been told in no uncertain terms they Agile implementation is tied to their KPIs, so I felt extremely humbled that they feel comfortable enough with me to openly admit that, knowing fully I could have abused that piece of information.

Second, I think it takes tremendous amount of courage to admit that to oneself that despite being told to do Agile, they don't fully appreciate the point of it.

In an environment where senior leadership have used their power and authority to ensure Agile adoption, many teams simply will never openly communicate their lack of appreciation for Agile, at best, they do Agile for the sake of it, at worst, they do waterfall cloaked in Agile clothing. 

This particular team is a large team that was told by their bosses that Kanbans is to be put up everywhere and stand-ups is expected from all teams. However, their lack of appreciation for Agile got in the way for the ceremonies to be implemented beyond the surface, and the result is the ad-hoc nature of their ceremonies and Kanbans that is little more than just cards moving across columns.

This lack of Agile appreciation was interpreted as resistance to Agile and their bosses was not impressed with it all and came down quite hard on them for not taking ownership in the Agile journey. So they sought me out to find how what they can do to fall in love with Agile...for real...and not just a charade for the management to see.

The reason they didn't fully adopt Agile because deep in their heart, they still doubt. They wanted someone to show them beyond the mechanics of Agile process, but the meaning, the purpose, ​and ultimately, what's it it for them?

I explained to them they should acquire a team coach whom would become part of their team​ and work with them to help. However, the suggestion was met with immediate scepticism...

They have experienced too many coaches and scrum masters whom simply insisted on doing Agile "right", following the Agile prescription rather then showing them key reasons on why they should do any of these new changes.

"We don't want one of those coaches..." they said.

They want to know, why should they do stand-ups? What's in it for them? Why it benefits them? What's the ultimate purpose of this? What's the value?

They simply don't want another well intending coach to tell them they should do something because that's what Scrum is. They want meaning and purpose...

Those of you whom heard me speak recently at Agile Sydney Meetup would know that a key part of Transformation Teams without using Power and Authority require us to Building Desire​ through the provision of meaning and purpose for what we want them to do.

​If you want to be truly effective as a transformation agent, hear the cries of your team, give them meaning and purpose, and you will be well on your way to be an effective holistic transformation coach!