In many Agile Transformation engagements, we notice that Leaders and Managers take a compliance-led approach – mostly due to the past baggage of traditional ways of management style. They try to push the change top-down on to the Teams. This gives a false perception of things moving fast. But they soon stagnate or go back to old state once the external force is removed, as the Teams have not bought into it and there is no ownership and commitment for the new way.
On the other hand, when the change is through conviction-led approaches, Teams own it and drive the change. It looks slow initially, but it sustains and grows. This takes a lot of education, engaging with them to co-create the solutions contextually and empowering them to take the lead where the actual work happens.
But this can happen only when Leaders and Managers are educated first. Unfortunately, in most Agile Transformations they are the least touched. But they decide the objectives and goals of the Team, they set expectations on the team and review performance, they decide the resources, recruitment and staffing of people and so on. Then they expect Teams to become Agile.
Just training and coaching the Teams is like writing on the sand on the beach – it gets erased with every wave. There is more churn and movement of people at the Team level, and they are constantly influenced by the Leaders/Managers from the top. Whereas Leaders and Managers have longer tenure in their roles & organization. If they are educated on their role in Agility, it sustains, and they will influence the Teams the right way.
Without Leaders/Managers transformation, Agile Transformation initiatives have become journey on the treadmill, with just the scenery changing on the screen to Scrum, SAFe, LeSS, Spotify, Scrum@Scale, Lean and more.
But who will hold the mirror to the …… Emperor? You may get some direction through this Agile Leadership Canvas.
What has been your experience?