“If you could get all people in an organization rowing in the same direction, you could dominate any industry, in any market, against any competition, at any time” Source: The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, written by Patrick Lencioni, already in 2002 and still valid.
Why does your company want to become Agile, and what does it mean for you as an Agile Leader?
This is an essential question to understand and be able to answer at all levels in an organization, specially for Agile Leaders. If your company want to become Agile it is likely that you work in a company that want to be able to meet any competition, at any time and still be relevant or even dominating in your market. If you ask this question in your organization, how consistent are the answers? How aligned are each individual, each team and specially your leadership team on this question?
Some companies have done an excellent job and have a clear understanding of what it means to become agile. In that case I am sure they are all very much aligned at all levels in the organization because they practice co-creation with their leaders and teams.
However, if the picture is rather blury and unclear, and you observe initiatives, projects, funding models and leadership behavior that are not supporting the decision of becoming agile, well then you might want to get your leadership team aligned. You might even need to take a step back and look further into what Agile actually is, and what it requires of each individual within your organization, and specially your Agile Leaders.
Questions you might want reflect upon and discuss in your leadership group could be;
- What has influenced our company in the past, in the present and will influence our company in the future?
- What kind of environment do we have or need to establish so that it supports our journey to become Agile?
- What are our values as leaders in our company? How do we live our values and do they support our Agile journey?
- Why does your company want to become Agile?
In my experience we tend to assume. We often assume that everyone else has the same understanding that we have, and we forget to ask. It is quite interesting what happens when we start asking and stop assuming. We end up being surprised because we were so sure that everyone else had the same understanding. I so much like the split of the word ASSUME; ASS – U – ME which translates into; “If you assume, you make an ass of u and me” – A super reminder that I learned by a coach trainer. But it is not only assumptions that stops us, sometimes it could be lack of trust or even fear of conflict.
Taking time to create a safe space to explore the questions above within your leadership team gives you a “reality-check”. It will help you build trust, reduce fear of conflict and increase commitment. It will give you certainty and alignment within your leadership team. When people feel safe and committed, they hold each other accountable for the co-created understanding of Why Agile, and their focus shift from individual needs to collective outcomes.
A simple exercise could be to co-create a timeline for your leadership team to look at what has influenced the company in the past, is influencing it in the present and will influence it in the future. This will help you towards a clear and co-created why Agile. After establishing a clear why – discuss what values and behaviours help create that safe and trusting environment that will bring you towards becoming that leading Agile Company. What is it specifically that you as leaders must do to create that environment?
What do I as an Agile Leader need to do different to support the Agile Journey?