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The Stages of Agile Transformation

To keep up with the ever changing demands of today's fast paced world we need to keep changing how we manage our organization, how we tackle issues and even how w engage our employees. For the Millennial entering the work force a different approach is needed, even though they crave the same we craved at that age.

To execute an effective agile transformation you need to take ample time and go through several clear stages. Only when all your stakeholders have embraced each stage can you move forward to the next stage. This needs to be combined with a lot of mentoring and coaching and most of all trusting and letting go. Kind of like when you teach your child to swim or to ride a bike. You need to let go at some point and trust them that they can do it. The same way you need to learn to trust your team. Supervision has taken a major shift from telling those you supervise what to do to coaching them to learn themselves what to do.

You begin by analyzing honestly where you are at at this point. What leadership style are you using, what level or organizational maturity do you have and what level of management maturity have you and your team reached. This will clearly show you where you need training and adjustment. Then you decide whether your organization is ready for the transformation or not. If you are still mentally stuck in a top-down approach to Management, then you may want to start changing this first and learn by giving your Management Team increasing responsibility. Then look at the outcomes and learn to trust them. Just because they approach something differently may not be wrong. That's why it is important to focus on the outcomes. With one of the clients I consulted for, we discussed the possibility of certain individuals working part time from home. However he realized that he was not ready to trust them to be fully productive at home. Working from home is not easy and takes some getting used to. Then when Covid 19 hit, he quickly agreed that this is now crunch time and immediately, on the first work day after the first case in Kenya was announced, he instructed all those who are not working on site to work from home. He had done homework on how to implement it and read up on effective ways of managing remote teams. So he quickly changed how meetings were held. The Leadership team started meeting in daily huddles and weekly tactical planning meetings and he touched base with each of the Leadership Team one-on-one once a week. Some of the heads of department cascaded the approach into their teams and within no time, the office based members of staff were working remotely effectively within 2 weeks. This was combined with HR and the Health and safety team sharing numerous articles and information on how to effectively work from home.

If you want to do a major transformation like the agile transformation, you do need a mentor. Make sure you find an experienced and practical mentor who has done this shift in several companies before. Then you form a change team. You should involve an experienced change manager and identify change agents in every team or department, since this will take a lot of EQ and personal involvement. You need to have a team that not only develops the relevant structures and processes, but also does a lot of one-on-one mentoring and is willing to chair town hall meetings. Your employees need time to understand the new way of working, they need a safe space where they can voice their concerns and worries. The mental shift required is not an easy one and your employees on all levels need time for this.

I would actually always start with a pilot project, with those who are ready to embrace the change. That way you can figure out what works for your company while at the same time proving to those, who still need to embrace the change, that it indeed works. That way those personalities that are having a harder time accepting change have more time to adapt and can see that it will work. For example very process focused members of staff, with a process focused inner motivational value system, will take longer, since they have to understand the new "processes" first. But since in an agile environment the processes become blurred, it will be very difficult for them to wrap their head around it.

We can help you identify your Management Teams inner motivational value systems with Strength Deployment Inventory (SDI) Assessments. Our very own Stephanie Jaeger, is a certified SDI Facilitator and can do a workshop with your Leadership team. Once you have done this, you will be able to identify your change team based on their inner motivational value systems, their strengths and their ability to adapt to change.

Once you have your team, you need to spend some time on building this team, while also laying out the team charter, which details how you will engage with each other. Then you need to decide together how you will deal with set-backs and how you will reward those making great strides in the change and bringing great ideas on board. The agile transformation is not a one-size-fits-all, you have to customize to your organizational needs at the time.

Your plan needs to also include ways to fight the "fake agile", the many myths that float around and finally you need to have a plan to help people settle into the "new normal"

Steve Denning lays out 12 distinct stages you need to take your organization through to complete the Agile Transformation.

We at ACTS Integration Ltd will partner with you every step of the way during this process

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