Is increasing agility a recurring New Year's resolution?

From the Easy in theory, difficult in practice Blog
by
My musings on project management, project portfolio management and change management. I'm a firm believer that a pragmatic approach to organizational change that addresses process & technology, but primarily, people will maximize chances for success. This blog contains articles which I've previously written and published as well as new content.

About this Blog

RSS

Recent Posts

Are you being (responsibly) transparent?

Don’t get blindsided by stakeholder influence

What if the PMBOK Guide was a Choose Your Own Adventure® book?

Tips for taking over an active project

Change management helps when implementing risk responses


Categories: Agile, Change Management


As we kickoff the final week of 2018, many of us will be making New Year's resolutions. While some of these resolutions might relate to achieving a specific goal or objective (e.g. I resolve to run a marathon this year), most relate to changing our behavior (e.g. I resolve to eat healthier this year).

But for many of us it becomes a case of déjà vu as we end up making the same resolutions we had confidently made in previous years.

Increasing organizational agility is a journey and not a one time goal.

Similar to New Year's resolutions, some delivery teams initiate plans to become agile only to revert to long ingrained habits when things get tough. It might not be on an annual basis, but companies which have struggled with agile transformations once will often try again and many will experience more than one failed attempt.

When it comes to personal resolutions and being able to stick to them the American Psychological Association's website provides some good advice which could be applied to agile transformations.

Start small

It might be tempting to pick the very largest product or project when starting an agile transformation to surface many key organization blockers and to glean some valuable lessons. However, the very visible impacts of potential failure as well as the higher volume of stakeholders whose behavior will need to change makes this extremely risky. Just as a casual runner shouldn't try to run a marathon in their very first month, starting with too ambitious a set of pilot initiatives is usually a recipe for disaster.

Change one behavior at a time

There are multiple behaviors which leaders and team members might need to modify and trying to change all of those at one time is like a golfer who tries to keep multiple swing thoughts in their head when addressing the ball. Usually they will end up with a worse swing than if they had just cleared their mind of all thoughts! A transformation team should identify which behavior change might result in the biggest impact and that should become the focus of coaching and peer support.

Talk about it

To succeed with any significant organizational change we need to over-communicate. The more we can talk with stakeholders about our target operating model, the challenges we will face to get there, and the small wins we are achieving, the more we will remain committed to the journey.

Don't beat yourself up

No agile transformation is going to go smoothly. Some initiatives might turn out worse than if a traditional approach had been used. Some staff will leave the organization. As the APA website states "Perfection is unattainable". But as long as we have support mechanisms in place and a desire to get better, we can bounce back from such setbacks which are usually minor when viewed from the perspective of an end-to-end transformation timeline.

Ask for support

Every organization has a unique culture, but it can be easier to stick to an increased agility resolution when you have support from those who have been there and done that. The value of external support comes from the breadth and depth of experience to know which patterns of behavior or practice are likely to lead to success and which won't.

Adapting the quote from Dr. Lynn Bufka "Remember, it is not the extent of the change that matters, but rather the act of recognizing that lifestyle behavior change is important and working toward it, one step at a time."

Posted on: December 23, 2018 07:00 AM | Permalink

Comments (6)

Please login or join to subscribe to this item
Good and simple one. Thanks for sharing

Probably a low hanging resolution that can mean many things to many people.

Lean, bite-size, and meaningful. Setting up many rocks in a series to cross the water gap - https://goo.gl/images/eSj3kM

Thanks for Interesting Article..

Kiron,

Thanks for the thought provoking blog to end the year. I agree with you that agility is a journey and not a destination. If you haven't read it yet there is a book regarding change that I think is appropriate here. It is called "Switch: How to Change Things when Change is Hard" by Dan Heath and Chip Heath. It talks about shrinking the change, and the elements of organizational change adoption. Best wishes for you and your practice in 2019, and thanks for the engaging content you provide :)

Good advice Kiron. Freud would be proud.

Increasing organizational agility is a journey and not a one time goal. -- So very true :)
Those five advises are very good! Thanks for sharing :)

Please Login/Register to leave a comment.

ADVERTISEMENTS

"Opera is where a guy gets stabbed in the back, and instead of dying, he sings."

- Robert Benchley

ADVERTISEMENT

Sponsors