Years ago, when I first began training and coaching enterprise teams who were transitioning to Agile, I felt the need to pull
in the teams to Agile, rather than push
Agile out (pun intended) to the team. This is how Agile adoption can become truly successful in any sense and take roots for the long haul. I realized in the first few training sessions that I was doing more of the pushing of the Agile framework out to them rather than participants pulling it in, and unless I got some extended interaction with teams for a few days to help them live (or at least experience) the benefits of the Agile way of delivering IT, the training might remain yet more time taken away from the "real work."
So here is what I do that has worked over the years to get the teams/participants in the interest zone to learn more about Agile — both its concepts and implementations — and to relate the importance of the Agile transformation to their own organization.
I started the training with an exercise, even before the introductions.
How is everyone doing? Fine? Great?
Since some of you are doing just fine, and not great, I have an offer for you. Those of you who are already doing great, there is little I have to offer you unless you want to do better than great.
I have been asked to hire some of the brilliant minds for this new group in the organization with the condition that these will be all internal hires, to validate that we never hire anyone non-brilliant to start with.
Most of you already have the skill sets that are needed, and the work hours will not increase.
Your pay package will be 1.5 times that of what you are making currently.
All in? Yes. Good.
Now this comes with one single condition: Your salary will not be disbursed on a monthly basis but will be deposited in your account when your team releases new features to our customers. If your teams deliver new features every week, you will be paid every week, and if your team delivers new features every six months, you will be paid every six months.
So how many are up for this new job?
Over the years, I have seen very few hands go up, barring some brave souls who were mostly young and unmarried. This also is a telltale sign of where the industry is moving. I then implore them to provide an honest reason for not pursuing this financially greener position. The answers varied in words, but in essence, they fell in these categories:
- I have a monthly commitment to fulfill (mortgage, care payment, school dues for kids, etc.).
To which I would respond: The organization you love so much (or are at least pretending that you do) and spend one-third of your day with, also has timely commitments, such as gaining market share, doing better in the marketplace (not just surviving) every day/week/month, and showing quarterly results. If you really look at the fundamentals, your monthly commitments can be fulfilled optimally for the long run, only if the organization is able to deliver on its commitments.
- What if the project does not deliver anything?
It is hard to count the number of times I was asked about the painful reality of the Waterfall world. My response was a question: Do you pay for a new appliance when it is not delivered/installed in your house? The answer is obvious.
- This is not how society or the industry is structured. Basically, this is not how it works.
True, but before fhe Ford Motor Company, society, and the industry were not structured for cars. Before the iPhone, society, and the industry were not structured for dozens of different industries we have now and the change we have seen in society.
Society will continue to adapt much faster than it is given credit for, and industries will continue to get disrupted more frequently than recorded in the past.
This is where I get participants to relate to the goals of the Agile transition from the organization’s perspective.
So the reasons for doing this training (the reason the organization is spending resources) are to achieve these simple goals:
- To do better in the marketplace in order to achieve and surpass the timely commitments — more happy customers, greater market share, and burgeoning profits — month over month and quarter over quarter.
- Every single project (where the resources/focus/energy are spent) is mandated to deliver something of value.
- We not only remain relevant to adapt to changing structures within the industry and society but grow by inculcating the agility at every level.
- Early and often realization of value is the best form of value realization. Isn’t this the reason we all want the organization to pay us monthly? So, is it unfair for our organization to ask for something similar in return from us?
This exercise takes around 10 minutes but builds a conceptual foundation of the Agile/Scrum framework that pulls people in to relate to why any organization would like its IT teams to transition to Agile and why it is beneficial to them (covering the part of "What’s in it for me?"). It also breaks the ice for open and honest conversation and creates that relatable human connection, which acts as a ladder for me to climb over the wall of organizational inhibitions/prohibitions and see the on-the-ground reality. This has helped me immensely in the second phase of engagement — coaching.
So how many of you would like a job that pays 1.5 times?