Why Agile is For You and Your Team


I work with a lot of executive leadership and large organizations on culture change issues, and I often hear the question, “Should we go agile?” or “We’re thinking about going agile. What do you think, is agile for us?”

My usual response is that I don’t think that’s the right question — because agile is not a noun, it’s not a thing.

The right question is, “Am I exposed to change, complexity, and uncertainty in my business, my department, my function, my team? Am I exposed to people on my team not stepping up?”

If the answer is “Yes,” then there’s some pretty amazing information coming to light about how you can not only survive but thrive under conditions of complexity and uncertainty.

You can apply this research to expand your The Leadership Gift™ power and ability every day, build unstoppable teams, and develop a culture of amazing agility.

I tell these senior executives that when they went to business school for their management training or MBA programs, they were steeped in a way of thinking that was obsolete when they learned it.

That’s the way it is — there’s about a 50-year lag time in what is taught in education in our society and the ideas around agile, which really started around the 70’s or 80’s and was formally named in 2001.

I also tell them its not about processes.

I think the biggest mistake worldwide is seeing agile as a process or a set of tools. For me it’s not that at all — it’s simply a way of thinking.

For me it is important to figure out how to put people dynamics before process mechanics, and in my experience 99 percent of adopting organizations don’t get that and don’t know how to deal with that.

If agile is all about applying empirical process, then you’ve got an onboard empirical process that’s probably the most important one to tap into — and that’s your ability to grow and learn from problems.

That’s what The Responsibility Process™ is all about.

The Responsibility ProcessYou always want to try to get through all of those states “below the line” as fast as you can to get to Responsibility.

I tell executives to replace right and wrong with empiricism and to replace endless analysis with experiments.

Most importantly, I tell them to ask themselves how they know whether or not they are adding value.

People don’t resist change — people resist being changed.

We all make many changes every day as we are trying to get from A to B. If there is something in our way, we reroute and eventually get to where we want to go.

If we find that something we’ve been doing for a long time no longer suits us, we let it go, so we are actually quite good at changing when it’s our own idea. It’s having change imposed that’s the problem.

So when I get that question, “Is agile for us?” I talk to those executives about setting up the conditions by which people can choose changes that help them perform better and add more value.

If we want people to operate responsibly and get out of shame and obligation, we have to build environments that support that.

Get Started With This 5-Minute Practice Tip

You were born with The Leadership Gift; everyone is. Every act of real leadership taps into it. Any individual, team, or business culture can master it, but few people ever discover this gift by themselves.

Take a few minutes and think about — or brainstorm with the group about — what you can do to create a work environment that inspires personal responsibility—the first principle of success in any endeavor. Many leaders consider it the essence of self-organization, growth, agility, and change.

Attention decision makers — For business, Partnerwerks provides a unique and proven model for igniting ownership and self-direction. See Partnerwerks approach to sustainable change with measurable results enterprise-wide.

Christopher Avery, PhD, is a recognized authority on how individual and shared responsibility works in the mind and an advisor to leaders worldwide.

Posted in Leadership on 10/23/2014 01:54 am
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