The Agile Organization
EFCS Is a Philosophy That Can Help Your Organization on Its Path of Agility
18 November 2013
Agile is a powerful tool. It can not only be implemented within teams to deliver value but also within an organization to deliver more value to its customers. During my tenure with HCL Technologies, I was introduced by Mr. Vineet Nayyar to a new philosophy that states, "Employees First, Customer Second." It sounded to me like, "Employees are always right" as opposed to famous phrase "The customer is always right." But when I did a deep dive into this philosophy, I found the real power behind it. It is multiple steps above the "customer is always right" mind-set. This philosophy is so strong that it can not only impact how an individual team delivers value but also how an organization can deliver more value to its customers.
Organizations that are going Agile should understand EFCS and start practicing it to get more out of Agile. It will help them change their mind-set about typical conventional management and get them more aligned toward Agile practices.
Mirror, mirror, confronting the truth
In traditional leadership organizations, employees work in a "command and control" environment. They are commanded and controlled by the person who is sitting on top of them. There may be a sense of fear among employees about telling you the truth about the current status of a project. Many a time you will end up hearing managed truth rather than actual truth.
Your employees should be continuously encouraged to tell you the truth. During sprint retrospectives, developers act as a mirror and give you a picture about the previous sprint. This helps everyone involved to know about what they are doing well or where they need to improve, and it also takes you on a beautiful journey of continuous improvement. Imagine the benefits you can obtain by using retrospectives for an entire organization.
Using transparency to build trust
Scrum teams are transparent in nature. Everyone within a Scrum team knows what they are working on, what their team is working on, how their team is progressing, and where they need to improve. Not only this but anyone can look at the Scrum wall of the team and know its status exactly.
I remember a saying that most people will take the same decision that you are taking, provided they have same set of data used behind your decision. If people have access to that data, they will not feel that the decision is being forced on them. They will feel more engaged and they will not only support your decision but also do their best to make your decision a success. People show better results and a sense of responsibility when you trust them.
Inverting the management pyramid
In a Scrum team, every member is accountable for the success of the team. People leave their fancy designations outside the room and work as a cross-functional team that helps, supports, and shares knowledge among its members. The team spirit is boosted with everyone's sense of accountability toward the success of the team.
Within an organization, people who are continuously delivering value to the customer require support from enabling units to do their jobs better. These enabling units may be finance, HR, or the infrastructure team. If one treats them as separate units working differently, the people involved may not have any idea what impact a problem can cause on the productivity of other employees or how the customer will suffer in the ripple effect. Employees should not only be accountable to the senior managers but managers should also be accountable to employees.
Recasting the office of the CEO
Should the CEO be a servant leader? My answer would be yes, a CEO must take the role of servant leader. The servant leader shares power, puts the needs of others first, and helps people develop and perform as well as possible. Think of the CEO as the ScrumMaster, who supports his people who are delivering core values to his customers.
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