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Authored by McGee – Agile Coach

(These statements are strictly personal and are not those of any Company or Organization)

Last week I found myself in a discussion on agile leadership. I believe agile transformations can only be successful if the leader is fully bought in, fully supports the transformation and develops an “Agile Mind-set” (I will discuss these in a later blog!). That got me thinking about the leaders I have worked with and the stories I heard them tell about their agile journey and how they developed their agile mind-set.

One of these leaders had a story that stood out for me. He was “told” to make his organisation agile. Not knowing much about agility, he went to one of his peers who had successfully transformed a different business unit to agile ways of working. He asked his colleague to help him with this transformation. His colleague gave him a book and told him to read it. Two months later he met his colleague again and asked him again for support. His colleague gave him another book. The third time they met he walked away with another book.

During his summer holidays he decided to read these books. He said that half way through one of the books (“From Good to Great” by Jim Collins) the penny dropped. He suddenly realized that this transformation began with him. He needed to change the way he worked, behaved and led. Agility was more than just one of those things that “development teams” do.

For me, the “penny” dropped after watching a management video by Gary Hamel – well worth 15 minutes of your time. Deciding to go “all in” and change your leadership style is daunting. It is life changing. It takes a lot of hard work, self-reflection and accepting some tough truths about your self. The good news is that you can become more self-aware, and you can change your behaviour. This fundamentally changes the way you interact with people – not only those you work with!

So when people ask me to help with their agile transformation, they will usually walk away with a book. I also like to share with them some more information on the personal transformation they are about to engage on. It is like a scene from the movie “The Matrix” where our hero is presented with two options – represented by a blue pill and a red pill. If he takes the blue pill he wakes up in the morning and everything stays the same, if he takes the red pill then his eyes are opened to reality and he sees the world for what it is. The red pill is the harder option but represents reality and truth.

Given the choice what pill would you take? Would you take the blue one and keep everything at work the same?  Or, would you take the red one, and become agile, changing the way you work, behave and interact with other people?

Starbucks have a great mission statement: “To inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup and one neighbourhood at a time.” The change starts with you, one person at a time …..