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Hints for Agile transformation

September 29, 2011

This is a big issue. I know it, you know it.

So I leave you here some hints on doing this “Agile Transformation” in a company:

– You need  the Olive in your Cheeseburger

Starting transformation from the bottom (meaning teams, or trenches as I like to call them)  is funny, and you can actually see things moving: but that’s not enough.

The tendency is for people to start doing some ceremonies and then everyone starts believing they are done. My friend, You’re not.  Actually you are suffering from this condition we call Cargo Cult. (Search the web, you’ll love the story!)

You need to strengthen the change. Start from the the Bottom and from Top at the same time.

Regarding the middle :) well…just squeeze them! (check this out: The Lean Agile Sandwich)

– You need  a Helicopter

Whenever we are doing something, probability of suffering from tunnel vision is really high, so you narrow your prespectives and you see almost anything else but your own problems.

That is exactly the problem: if you can only see your problems, you won’t be seeing the solutions.

What you need is some helicopter vision. As it’s really hard to get someone from inside your company with this ability (becausue they are all focused on company issues), the easy solution is: bring someone from the outside.

A fresh perspective. Someone able to see the whole scenario, without caring too much with detail. That person well beam new solutions or at least help you getting more arguments when you’re doing the right thing :)

– Don’t clean the weed, let it grow

Bringing experts into your comapny (aka consultants) is good. But just as a start.

It won’t be enough to keep you going if you don’t grow the guys that will stay with you even after Consultants leave.

You need to grow knowledge inside your company.  If you don’t, well actually you are getting into trouble again and sooner or later, you’ll need to call the experts and start all over again.

BTW: there’s no such thing as Knowledge Transfer.  There is something called process transfer and also teaching or coaching, but knowledge does not transfer itself from one head to the other. Keep this is mind.

– Let’s dance!

Like dance, we need to practice. So this is my advice to you: institute practices. Make them part of your daily routine.Of course you cannot make people dance, but still you can show them how cool it is to dance and then, well then it will be pretty easy for them to understand why they need to practice.

– Back to school

Humans need boundaries.  Not as in physical and prohibitive limits, but rather  to know from which point/line  things start changing . I need that to grow and to be prepared for whenever that line needs be crossed. I called it : educate principles and explain values.

– Bring your friend to play

Wanna go fast travel alone, wanna go far travel together.

I believe we can grow people, individuals, only to a certain extent, after that you cannot grow them alone- as individuals. You need to grow them in communities.

As a first approach people need to be taught about things.

Imagine how hard it must be for a recent graduate to understand Refactoring! What? Why would i need to do the same thing again?

I really like something I read in management 3.0, here Jurgen writes something like ” If people don’t wash their teeth to clean all the germs, why would they clean their code?”

[ Just for you to know that my perspective about refactoring changed after that sentence :D – and you know what’s even more interesting: when you say something like this to a bunch of developers, the first thing I see them doing is searching on web more about Refactoring and how it can be done. Give it a try ;) ]

Point here: Grow individuals into professional communities. First step: inspire them to create Communities of Practice.

– Eggs and butterflies

Programmers, testers, lets put this way: IT workers,  are like butterflies. They have this growth cycle and unfortunately some of them spends their life being the egg, others the larva, some the pupa and a few: the butterfly.

You, as a coach?, change agent?, professional?, linchpin?, crazy? human? YOU! you need to instill change. Keep showing where they can go, and above all, show them how far they have already gone. Leaving the comfort zone is not easy.

(I have this theory, that I’ve just made up, about the first time we left our comfort zone was when we were born…and we didn’t like it, so now we fight it every time we face it)

– Share your car

You know you won’t get far without someone by your side, so why don’t you share what you have? Share, there’s plenty of room. And then, take the chance to Drive the potential. Figure out who is that person sit next to you and drive her far. Don’t forget you are going to.

– Be a mum (even if you are a guy)

Congratulations! Now, meet your baby:  willingness.. so fragile and..yes, sometimes with bad temper. You need to nurture her. Keep her close and happy. Be a mom!

These are my hints for today, about Agile Transformation. Now we both know: after all this is just common sense.
Thank you for your time :) we’ve traveled together


From → Agile, Tips

  1. Awesome. Very sound advice. Thank you!
    take care

  2. pintolaranja permalink

    Does throwing a flashlight into people’s eyes help them?
    It is so easy and yet so hard :)

    Awesome post, buddy!

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