The Agile Enterprise is nimble and robust. Responsive to an ever-changing, high-speed marketplace, it anticipates customer needs and wants. Its capacity for innovation delights customers and employees alike. Implementing agile for software development is vital and not enough for full-scale agility. At scale, a company needs to be agile-informed in its purpose, structure, processes and culture. This allows it to use business agility—a shared understanding that generates a new way of thinking, working and delivering value—as a competitive advantage. The organizational health essential to enterprise agility occurs by intentional design: a top-down commitment to embody transformational leadership. In this webinar, you’ll learn:
- The two key, complementary value cycles that constitute Enterprise Agility
- Why the Agile Enterprise depends on Transformational Leadership
- The four organizational disciplines of the Agile Enterprise
Transcript of Presentation
Hello, everyone. Thanks for being with us today. My name is Ben Lack, and I’m on the marketing team at Cprime and really happy that you guys are here for a very interesting presentation. I’m joined today by Marni Gauthier, and she’s going to be presenting a topic called The Agile Enterprise: The Role of Leadership and Organizational Health in Scaling Agile. Before we get into some housekeeping items I do want to give you a little bit of background around Marni.
She’s the founder of Four Site Leadership, which develops transformational leaders, synergistic teams and Agile sustainable companies. A change agent, learning architect, master facilitator and coach, Marni keenly identifies organizational dynamics and design delivered solutions that empower executive teams to realize systems, mastery and enterprise vision. Marni specializes in cultural integration and evolving product and business experts into transformational leaders. A system’s thinker with a holistic, multi-disciplinary approach, she helps build a continuous learning organization with long-term sustainability. In addition to playing a key role in a number of leadership and organizational development initiatives, Marni has also served as faculty for the Leeds School of business at the University of Colorado and the CU Leaderships Studies Minor.
All right. Now that you have a little bit of background on Marni, I want to go over a couple of quick housekeeping items, and then we’re going to go into the presentation. First, this session is being currently recorded and we will be sending this, as well as the slides to you, within the next 24 to 48 hours. If you have any questions please feel free to post those in the questions box and at the end, we’ve got a three-question survey that we’d love for you to fill out. It’s always helpful to get feedback on how we did and get some ideas for future topics. Finally, we want this to be as engaging as possible, so we’ve got a handful of poll questions that we will post throughout the presentation. We’d really appreciate it if you gave us some of your feedbacks so that we can talk about the results and provide some extra guidance and make this session as meaningful for you as we can.
With that, we’d love for you, Marni, please advance the slide and we’ll go ahead and launch our very first poll, which is all around Building Alignment and Empathy. The last webinar we closed this poll similarly and so we want ask this to you and that is, “What does Building Alignment and Empathy mean to you?” So, you’ve got three choices here. The first is, “Alignment about what software we’re building for customers.” The second is, “Building within the leadership team and within the organization.” And then if for some reason those two choices don’t resonate with you, feel free to choose “Other” and if you choose “Other,” we’d love for you to post in the question box your comments on what other kind of statement you would make. And if you feel strongly about any of the first two choices, also feel free to drop in the question box why you selected the first selection or the second selection and I will kind of pose those to Marni right now.
We’re about almost 70% folks voted. I’ll give everybody another 10 seconds and then I will close the poll. Marni, I’ll let you know what the results are and would love to get your thoughts on it and then let you go straight into your presentation.
Okay. Everybody should be able to see that 71% of the people have answered “Building within the leadership team and within the organization.” 28% wrote about “Alignment about what software we’re building for customers.” And there’s a couple of folks that said “Other.” One of the “Other” answers is, alignment about purpose with empathy and openness to change. There is also another one about aligning the complete product team. Another person, Perla has said, “Alignment and empathy is about company culture, collaboration and having a common goal.”
Speaker 2: Marni Gauthier
Okay. Fascinating. Thank you so much, Ben. Now, can I ask you Ben to get rid of the poll so I can … Thank you so much. First of all, I just want to say good morning, good afternoon, good day, wherever you are personally. I am Marni Gauthier. It’s the same pronunciation as the band Gauthier or the designer or the singer, depending on your familiarity with that. I’m really delighted with the response to this poll question. I found the last Cprime webinar fascinating and that it closed with this and the facilitator, that presenter went right to the first answer. So that, yes, we need to build alignment around what software we’re building an empathy for our customer. I, coming from my leadership and organization development perspective, my mind went to the second option, “Building Alignment and Empathy both within the leadership team and within an organization,” especially one undergoing an Agile transformation.
That’s why I wanted to start with this question to set the table and shape the space for what it is we’re talking about today. It strikes me that we have a lot of practiced, smart Agilists it seems like at the table and certainly choosing both, but I am surprised seeing how many people chose the second.
Of course, it’s both, right? We can have lots of incremental pieces of working software and even finished product but is it what the customer wants? As of more importance, does it fulfill our strategic goals? Are we fulfilling our mission and realizing our purpose as an enterprise? Are we being our best organizational self? And just an example to sort of ground this, I worked recently with a company who excels Agile methodologies both like a software and business agility level. And not long ago, one of their star fortune 500 customers said to them, “Every time we ask you guys to do something, you do it. Every time we ask you to build, the feature we want, you build it but we don’t know that you’re being innovative.”
To delight the customer, we need alignment, not only within the company and with our current customer but tune in to the marketplace, anticipating customer desires and needs so we can delight them. And so, I think this question raises other questions and one of them is are we order takers or are we leading innovators? And of course, adaptive innovation is what Agile is all about. So that’s what we’re gonna be talking about today.
Okay, so the other aspect is what about all the other departments in the organization? Pricing, marketing, presale, sale, customer service, technical support, is there a clear line of sight between everybody’s monthly and quarterly annual goals in the company strategic goals? All of these questions involved many conversations, team and cost team collaborations. Dialogue, trust, mutual influence, leadership has to set the vision, align, and then communicate clarity and alignment, clarity and relationship is the cohesive triad that breed enterprise agility. So that’s what we’re gonna be talking about today.
So let’s just start at the beginning. So we are on the same page. What is the Agile enterprise? For most of our audience, the Agile enterprise is a company who has implemented Agile methodologies for software development and in some cases, Agile methodologies for meeting facilitation and initiative processes. So some term this, business agility, a way of having meetings and making collective decisions.
In all cases, software leading development, excuse me, meeting and facilitation and initiative processes. Agile is a set of tool processes and a mindset, all geared to innovation velocity. Developing and delivering incrementally, small collaborative teams, testing for value with customer feedback and beginning another iterative cycle based upon what we just learned. So when we talk about the Agile Enterprise, we’re defining agility more broadly. We’re talking about something both bigger and deeper than software development and meetings, which the poll answers I believe reflected. So come with me far above sea level to the 50,000 foot view of the enterprise as an organism.
Okay, the enterprise is a system. It’s interconnected. What happens in one part of the system, team department, functions, IT, customer experience, customer success affects the whole system even if it doesn’t feel like it does. And often, especially, when it doesn’t feel like it does because functional silos disconnected less effective organization. If anyone’s wondering what we’re looking at, this image illustrates my point and I’m wondering if I … then I’m going to throw this up if anyone chats with an answer. Let me know. Does anyone actually know what the image represents?
It took me a while to figure that out. I’m still curious myself. So Perla is saying, “A river.” We’ve got someone that said that it’s the Mississippi Delta. We also have somebody that has stated that it’s the Tree of Life. Are any of those correct?
Oh, beautiful. None of them are exactly correct but they’re all extremely close and right on in terms of the concept and the point here. I’m in Colorado and this is the Colorado River System. So I know many of you may not know the Colorado River System but you know other river systems clearly. Although, I know the Colorado River System, this doesn’t look like the Colorado River system from my usual vantage point, right? Sort of rafting through it or fishing or whatever it is that I’m doing, hiking alongside it but indeed, that’s what it is.
I was a little blown away when I saw this by its intricacies and interconnectedness of it. And like any river system, including the ones you named, your organization is a living, breathing, interactive organism and this is how I look at an organization, as an organism. So whether an enterprise has grown quickly or over decades, organically in multiple growth and hiring cycles or by mergers and acquisitions. It often consists of multiple organizational units with their own objectives and budgets, multiple products, services and geographies.
And the result of this is often disparate tribes or cultures, processes and sometimes even processes and tools within the same organization. As a result, enterprise agility becomes more difficult. So we want to know how to get there to enterprise agility but before we do, we have to know what it looks like and what it feels like. And again, I want to make sure we’re all on the same page as to what the Agile Enterprise is.
So this description is from the webinar. That’s the full agile definition and just to paraphrase, the Agile Enterprise is nimble, it’s adaptive, it has subtly interacting parts that all move together as one fluid organism. And so take this in for a moment and we’re going to give you another poll question.
There goes the poll question. So the question is, “This is a cultural operating system of …” and so you’ve got four choices here. First choice is, “My team but not my company as a whole.” Second choice is, “My IT group but not the rest of my organization. The third choice is, “My entire company.” and then the fourth choice is, “Neither my team, nor my company.” So as you are selecting the answer that best resonates with you, also feel free if you want to add color to go ahead and chat why you’ve selected your answer in the question box so that I can pose that additional detail to Marni and get some of her thoughts as well.
So we’ve got almost 70% of the folks voted so far. I’m going to give everybody another five, six seconds and then we’ll go from there … Okay, so we have more than 76% of the people who have voted. 60% have said, “My entire company.” 17% said the first two answers and then in fourth place is, “Neither my team, nor my company.” but I do want to state that for somebody that said, “My entire company.” they caveat by saying, “But a company culture is an ecosystem of subcultures.” And there’s also a question around or I guess another statement rather that it is the company and the customer’s external to the company. So curious to get your thoughts on this, Marni.
Great, okay. I’m taking this in and first of all, I have to say I’m impressed that 60% of our attendees look at this and will recognize the image in the description and a seal, they’re on your own company. That’s a happy place to live and I’m imagining successful and engaging for your employees as well as your customers. I want to respond to the really keen comment that a company is an ecosystem of cultures and consists and affects, not only the employees within it but the customers as well and I’m just paraphrasing from memory because I didn’t get it word for word. I think that is certainly well put and just to put it in terms of the enterprise as an organism in a system, recalling and evoking that image we looked at earlier at the Colorado River System.
Of course, that’s true, right? I mean we didn’t talk about … We don’t see from that 50,000 foot view all of the river life, the various species but we might think of that as a metaphor for the customers. It’s an interactive system that of course, what we’re doing enterprises were serving customers interacting with the marketplace and hopefully, reading in terms of innovation. So in some senses, I’m speaking I would say to the other 40-something percent of people here in our audience and together with us today, who do not recognize the Agile Enterprise as the place in which they live at least in a company as a whole.
And I’m looking forward to hearing from all of you, including those of you who recognize this as your entire company when we get to the Q&A. So now that we recognize what constitutes the Agile enterprise, let’s, again, be very clear on not only where we want to go and how we want to be but how we’re going to get there. So we’re going to begin with something that’s familiar to all Agilists, which is the PDCA cycle. Again, Agile is a set of tool processes of the mindset and all three of them involve and reflect the plan to check act cycle in Agile.
I like this image of the PDCA because it depicts the cyclical nature of improvement by learning that’s essential to Agile. The extent to which organization systematically learns and adopts this growth mindset determines its ability to know when and which tools and prophecies to use to be Agile. Agile as a mindset is at least understood and most relevant dimension for both software technologists and for those outside IT.
And again, I just want to know and step back through that, the webinar format is a lot of these talking to you and if you have comments or questions, I would ask you to note them and collect them because we’re going to move to a Q&A and I’d love to hear your thoughts on the extent to which Agile, not only as a set of tools and processes but as a mindset permeate your organization. It seems to me that for those of you who recognize those birds in flight moving nimbly and adaptively and in tune to one another and the marketplace of customers as your enterprise that an Agile mindset would be that, which you know characterizes information organization as well.
Does this proclivity, both as individuals, teams and as an organization to learn from experiences and nimbly adapt requires transparency, systems thinking and collaboration. None of these can occur in the absence of trust or fluent skills, communication and that’s what brings us to the second cycle of value that’s essential for enterprise agility. If this looks familiar, it’s because it is. This is conversation as a system of value and it was derived from Agile software methodologies in the 2000 but based on observation of groups who created more than what they thought was possible, this cycle of value or COV as I’ll refer to it, depicts an organically recurring dynamic of those types of groups.
When human beings come together to coordinate action, if they have something they’re partnering on to move forward. We have found, those of us in research, work, leadership and organization development, that there is a reliable, predictable design teams and organizations who create more value through innovation than they had planned. They, number one, align deeply first around the common purpose. After aligning around a few very specific things, which in Agile, we talked about as limiting the WIP, they get into action quickly and they adjust often. And adjusting involves learning from not only the results of their actions so that it’s not only the deliverables, what worked and what didn’t but behaviorally.
How did we work together and did not? And how can we, as a team in our organization do better next time as effective and even more delightful deliverable and delightful customer experience? And that adjusting then generates the next cycle or iteration. So what’s relevant to this is how it occurs in your organization. So I’m going to just take you briefly through each element of this cycle and I want you to consider, as I’m speaking through this, which element is your organization best act and weakest act. So in the aligned conversations, the focus is on, bringing people together around a shared purpose, exploring differences in a healthy and productive way, that fuel creativity and generate great ideas and deciding, which ideas you will support by committing time, money and people. Again, that’s limiting … part of that is limiting the WIP.
This is a deep alignment that occurs from a shared purpose and commitment as the means to realize that purpose. Often, execution problems are simply symptoms that are sourced in weak alignment. Okay, once we align deeply, we get into action quickly to generate momentum. In the act conversations, that focuses on connecting with people who must actually do the work, having them understand the thinking that went into this vision and clarifying roles and accountabilities. Ensure the right work gets done on time commitment.
And finally, in the adjust conversations, this focus is on learning and improving. The value will increase with each cycle if adjust conversations are fast paced and lead to insights that improve and strengthen alignment around the next steps. Adjust is all about testing for a valuable cycle. Did we learn something through our actions that will create even more value for the system? What should we learn and how specifically are we going to apply it in the next cycle? So when done well, which is intentionally and systematically, adjust conversations generate the next COV.
So that brings us to our next poll question.
So the console should have popped up again and the question is, “From these three choices, which of the three parts of the COV is your specific organization strongest in?” So please select either “Align,” “Act” or “Adjust” and then also, if you want to chime in and tell us why you’ve selected the answer, feel free to go ahead and let us know I’m gonna give everybody about five more seconds. We’ve already got 60% of the people voted. So for all the stragglers, hurry up and get your answer in.
Okay, so Marni, we got 60% of the people that are selecting “Act.” 25% of the people saying, “Adjust” and then 15% say, “Align.” We also have a comment where someone thinks that they’re not really acting without much alignment or adjustment. So maybe you can provide some thoughts on that as well.
I would say that, that to me would suggest the action is the strong part of the cycle for that respondent.
If I understand it correctly, I mean it probably correlates to the first question but do we have a response to the second poll question, “Which of the three parts is your organization weakest in?”
That has now been posted. So which of the three part of the COV is your organization weakest in? Please select “Align,” “Act” or “Adjust.” We’ll give everybody about 10 seconds … Interesting. So for weakest 54% say, “Align is the weakest,” 10% say, “Act,” 36% say, “Adjust.”
Okay, great. Thank you so much, Ben for connecting these poll questions and I so appreciate everyone’s participation in these poll questions. It really helped me to align with you and make sure I understand the container and what page we’re on. These results that is the three parts of the COV that your organizations are both strongest in and weakest in roughly correlate and moreover, they correspond with my experience. Modern organizations are often really good at asking. I hear a lot. We get a lot done. We’re busy. We execute but we’re not necessarily in alignment and often, what happens is we’re now successful or less successful than we want to be. And then we’ll step back and we’ll say, “Okay, let’s get this right.”
So essentially, we’re getting into action quickly and executing and we do adjust and that’s fine, of course. What part of agility is getting a product out the door not spending forever on alignment, not spending forever planning but if we can just spend a little more time upfront and align more deeply specifically and clarify that, we can typically meet the needs of the end user more effectively the first time. And the value of that is that we can spend less time putting out fires and more time innovating.
So we want to be driving innovation as opposed to be consistently and nearly exclusively driving improvement. They go together and again, to just bring us back to Agile, it’s about adaptive innovation. So again, I’ll just ground this in an example. I’ve worked with an online learning organization. They are a leader in the industry and they have a very strong IT department. Their products are online courses, curriculum and the creative teams, so clients can see their own reports and download them and they get that done quickly. They get it out the door but they had a habit and we’re working together to mitigate and limit this of again acting when at alignment and then adjusting and getting that version.
So less versions will be better and produce an overall more delightful and consistent customer satisfaction and customer delight experience if we align deeply. So again, most of times, we act to just iterate but we want to importantly align first. Okay, the other weak aspect of the COV, again, primarily alignment tends to be adjusting and this stage again, is about reviewing and renewing. I’m not sure how many of you are familiar with the space framework, scaling Agile framework or enterprise but in that framework, and of course, in all Agile frameworks.
There’s a cycle that’s designated for retrospective. So the fifth IP of the PI planning is designated for retrospective. Reality on the ground is often that that doesn’t happen. Why? Because we’re spending too much time finishing up the WIP from previous iteration. And so retrospecting is not happening, let alone renewing and essentially carving out the space for innovation.
Okay, so we’re familiar with how the cycle works or doesn’t work or we’re strongest and weakest at in our organization. Again, the organizations who do this, are all three cycles as well, especially, who can become stronger in the align and adjust because we’re all pretty good at acting, generate the next cycle, not only quickly but better.
So Marni, before you jump in real quick, I just wanted to … We got a pretty good comment from Vicky and she says, “In our case, people start acting without alignment and our change reverse, so they don’t want to make any adjustments. So I know because you’re about to talk about adjust, maybe you could just kind of address that as you’re doing that.
Yes. Again, let me just take this in, change of … People are acting because I’m writing this down, Ben and so I can focus on … People are acting without alignment and are change adverse. They don’t want to adjust.
Is that right. Okay, I mean and that’s where we get into … Okay, so we have actions, which are results and underneath actions are behaviors. We behave in certain ways and that produces our actions but beneath the level of behaviors is mindset and that’s the level I work at. So what you’re describing Vicky, acting quickly that’s something that we’re comfortable with. Again, in the modern economy and modern business, that’s what we need to do. We need to produce. Weak alignment, a source in communication problems almost always, we’ll talk about that. Change adversity not adversity is on one hand, they’re a common human condition. Change is always hard but on the other hand at the same time, the very thing has potential to improve and that’s what we’re talking about here.
So the question I have is and the question worth exploring is, what is the mindset that in your organization makes people change and change averse, there’s many aspects of possibilities, one of them is fear of failure, fear of consequence of failure, not lack of a culture that encourages failing fast and learning fast. And again, that source in communication. What’s the worst thing that can happen if I change? I might not get it right but the best thing that can happen and what binds that and process is, “Great, I made a mistake. I get to learn to improve to do better next time.”
So again, that’s a culture and it’s the mindset that can be cultivated by the way in which we work together, communicate together and build trust and mutual influence. Son I’ll get into that as we progress here in the presentation. Thank you for raising this point. Again, we know it’s part of the Agile manifesto right there in front of us, that a regular intervals, the team reflects how to become more effective then tune and adjust its behavior accordingly. That’s changed, right? What we don’t want is resistance to that change, which Vicky is describing because not only is it antithetical to Agile but it will inhibit our growth and capacity to improve.
Again, when organizations do this well, what happens is we generate spending cycles of value. This is Kaizen from the lean philosophy of management. Lean, of course, being a close relatives of Agile and we generate ascending cycles of value. Now, of course, the length of the cycle depends upon who and where you are in an organization for a strong team, the cycle might be two weeks for Agile release train, attend the PI for leadership team. It could be 90-day sprints with 30-day checkpoints but in fact, there’s many, many, many ideally micro-cycles of value within any one of those two weeks. 30-day, 90-day cycle so that we’re continually aligning, acting, adjusting when we’re really looking well together.
What’s essential to address is how do we scale this across organizationally so that ascending COB, Kaizen, it’s a cultural operating system of the whole enterprise. So let’s go back to those two generally weakest elements of a COV align and adjust and connect it to Agile. One of the central principles of Agile is to limit the WIP. The WIP, of being the work in progress. We cannot adjust if we’re buried in WIP and that might be another reason for being adverse to change, again, weaving Vicky’s comment, which is common in organizations throughout this. How can I adjust? Maybe I’m change adverse because I just don’t have time. I have too many deliverables or imperatives or managerial pressure or whatever it is but I cannot adjust if I’m buried in WIP.
Neither can we properly align, both aligning and adjusting take time to step back. Again, ideally, we want to step back before we’ve had too many damaging consequences with our customers or employees. So a couple of the reasons is this, why is it hard to limit the width, two possibilities. One, often we’re trying to implement Agile in a legacy culture of conference heavy hierarchy command and control bureaucracy. Agile for enterprise requires decentralized authority for managers with their team to decide what to eliminate and what to focus on and an organizational wide culture of mutual trust and influence to support that. Again, easier said than done. I’m going to drill on how to get that done but that’s just the fact.
The second difficulty however, recognizing the importance of the cultural operating system. At an Agile national conference a couple of years ago, Rally software founder Tim Miller said, “Agile is easy unless you have to work.” And then he said, “The hard part is deciding, which has to cut.” So how do you decide that? Well, that’s where it gets to leadership aligning and line-of-sight. The key of the COV is dialogue. Now, we focus on dialogue because it’s the basic unit of work in an interaction economy and by interaction economy, I mean the place we’re all living in.
The reality is, again, those are newly beginning or process that implementing Agile is we know that in order to stay on top and to continue to be competitive in this ever-changing high speed marketplace, we have to live and breathe and practice Agile. We forget that the basic unit of work is not a feature, a piece of working software but it’s dialogue that allows that to happen. So what constitutes dialogue? It’s a reciprocal relational dynamic, characterized by genuine curiosity, active inquiry and listening to learn. This is especially important to aligning and adjusting. There is two aspects to dialogue, quality and timing.
To get the quality, let’s just look at the roots quickly of conversation. Converse comes from the Latin roots con and verse, which means to turn with. When we’re conversing with someone or a human organization, we’re turning with them and that’s true whether it’s your team, your direct report, boss, customers, the marketplace as a whole or turning with. So that’s the quality aspect of dialogue. The second aspect is timing. What conversation are we in? Are we aligning, acting or adjusting?
Being and having the capacity to be intentional and transparent about this at any given moment in any given conversation, what are we doing? Are we aligning? Do we know who’s doing the work? Are we agreed on what strategic goal we’re meeting there? Being intentional transparent about that improves the quality, efficiency and results of the conversation and the fact is that in the apparent demands of action of getting busy, of getting it done, if managerial imperatives do this, we move so fast. They’re both conversational quality, listening and learning and timing go by the wayside and that actually slows down and clogs the enterprise rather than officially gearing it for adapted innovation.
The better quality and timing we have in our conversation, actually the faster we can move and so that’s why these are two complementary value cycles that are essential for an enterprise to be Agile. And this must be intentionally scaled and practiced throughout the whole organization so that it does become the cultural operating system, the symbiotic fluid that you’re living in as you’re doing Agile, so they could be Agile.
An aligned, engaged company that consistently learns from experience, where it’s forced to fail fast and learn fast cultivate visions and build trust is the stuff that we need for agility to take hold and thrive. And it’s for this reason that even more important than an Agile mindset is a culture that supports it. Agile is roundly acknowledged as necessary culture piece. This is no surprise. Yet, the belief that implementing Agile methods will generate culture change is the cause of fallacy.
Agile processes and tools as install mechanisms for culture works in high alignment, high autonomy, high trust cultures. That’s why Spotify does the successful and innovative Agile adoption, that’s Spotify, you can look up the case study and read about it, makes Spotify the Agile poster boy.
From the daily stand up to sprint planning, interactive meetings involving lots of sticky notes and software demos to which all stakeholders including customers are invited. Agile processes are designed for collaboration and that’s why favorable conditions for Agile are creative cultures with high trust and high levels of collaboration but what if that’s not where we’re living? This is also the reason why for many established companies, for many enterprises, the path to Agile adoption is fraught with roadblocks, that like the whack-a-mole game, recur every turn. And in these cases, transformation becomes just a signpost.
It can even be an internal or external because it can develop into something that’s widespread marketing as opposed to an authentic organizational experience. And companies encounter the pitfalls of Agile without fully reaping its promise. So one of the benefits about implementing Agile, one of the many benefits is that it will surface the cultural operating system of your company and make more visible, the conditions, Google for agility or inimical to it.
Transactional management, command and control behaviors, build trust, just as an application runs within the operating system on your computer, so too is Agile run within your corporate culture. Both software and Agile implementation require healthy operating system, so without a high trust culture where generative candid skill dialogue is the norm, Agile can become processes. People show up for the daily standup, for their newly formed cross-functional team but they withhold their boots on the ground perspective. And we need those.
We need those from the people actually doing the work and connected with the resources or the impediments to getting the work done. When that happens, people just showing up for the processes, Agile coaches call it doing Agile versus being Agile and it inhibits the creative free flow exchange necessary for adaptive innovation. So one of the promises of the takeaways for this webinar was the four organizational disciplines of the Agile enterprise and this is what they are. We’ve talked a lot about the alignment. It involves an organizational emotional intelligence that depends upon individual emotional intelligence.
Here’s how and why alignment together with these other three organizational disciplines ensures enterprise agility. Part of and key to alignment is leadership ensuring a clear line of sight between every employee’s daily work and the company goal. Lack of line-of-sight mires people in silos of work that gets prioritized by urgency versus importance and often perceived business value versus real business value. And people experiences disconnect between Agile messaging and their work in progress, their WIP.
In smaller startup companies, the conditions in which Agile rose, line-of-sight is easier to establish and communicate. We were on the same page together. We’re involved in this you know, we’re building this thing together, this company, this product, this mission. In an enterprise, line-of-sight becomes much more elusive. Add in individual egos and agendas and perhaps a history of layoffs that is often the collateral damage of M&A and line-of-sight can become less important. It does become less important than job security.
So this human dimension of Agile adoption in a corporate environment must be acknowledged and addressed. It explains why in the words of CA Technologies CTO Otto Berkes, one of the four founders of Xbox Microsoft incidentally says that, “Deep adoption of Agile requires changing established culture and will challenge even the most involved Agile supporter.” So let’s just address that for a moment because of the paradox, right? I mean as Agile as we know, the culture necessary for Agile applies. So how is the deep adoption of Agile that requires changing a established culture can challenge even the most evolved Agile supporter?
In most companies, the most of all Agile supporters is a technical expert promoted to management. Again, the scale Agile framework for enterprise refers to this expert of managers and it’s well known in any industry. Through no fault of their own, experts as managers often lack leadership training to decrease their blindside, improve emotional intelligence, communication trust and relational skills.
And this lack of “people skills” can reinforce a transactional management style because again, under stress, we revert to learned behaviors. So rather than a transactional management style, what we need is transformational leadership. That is the organizational health that is essential to agility and it occurs by a top-down commitment to embody and practice transformational leadership. So definitely, this might be a term we’ve heard and you can get to run around. I want to make sure we’re really clear on what transformational leadership is.
It occurs by influence and relationship rather than by positional authority. Most of us within highly matrix organizations, the highly matrix organization in my view is a bit of a state of arrested development from traditional hierarchies and the next stage is really networks and again, if you look at Spotify networks of networks, it’s much more you know fluid.
It’s hard for us coming from one culture of hierarchy to evolve quickly into the next stage but what networks looks like is open candid communication to all levels in an organization vertically and horizontally, which again develops, I think, the more we venture as an organization and that depends upon transformational leadership. Transformational leaders and you know it if you’ve worked with them. Cultivate relationship building as a way of doing business and the conversational sensibility that fosters a cross- pollination of ideas.
And this is actually in terms of organizational conversation. Shift among the benefits of organizational conversation is that it allows a large or growing company to function like a small one. It becomes less about issuing orders and more about asking and answering questions. By cultivating this, operating this way, leaders can obtain or capture some of these qualities that enable startups to outperform better staffed rivals and you’re looking at them. Operational flexibility, high levels of employee engagement, tight strategic alignment, sure that characterizes often successful, exciting, thriving startups.
It is also the very picture of Agile and this just doesn’t occur within a system of culture, the two transactional management where get it done, just make it happen, this is the day. Yet, these are the orders that many of us have heard issued repeatedly as a matter of verbal command by managers, sometimes charged with or even leading Agile adoption.
A smart company doesn’t hire smart people to tell them what to do. It invites their perspective and recommendation, so we can learn together how to do business differently. That’s how we collaboratively enact a growth mindset. So this all sounds great I’m sure. Again, 60% of you looked at that picture of the Agile enterprise, the majority said, “Yes, I live in that company. I live in that culture.” So we all know this, right? These are the markers of organizational health.
Regardless of that Agile adoption but also essential for it and I just want to say a word about why this is especially vital for Agile in the Agile world we’re in and if we’re thinking about implementing Agile for enterprise because we can sort of get away if we’re not gonna be an Agile organization with less of what we’re looking at, less of this but if we’re going to be successful in Agile, which depends upon collaboration, trust, mutual influence and really very quickly together, we absolutely have to have it. Otherwise, again, it just doesn’t work.
So we get this, what’s the problem? The problem is that culture is unconscious and under stress, people revert, we all do, to inherited learned behaviors, often defaulting to control rather than trust, ask, learn, inquire, be curious. A lot of it is a matter of how a company is grown or evolved. What is its organizational health prior to scaling Agile? Agile is not a simple fix. Dialogue, listening to learn, organizational conversation, none of this occurs by chance nor as the ancillary effect of implementing Agile. So this is a lot and the great thing is that this can be taught.
Okay, so at this point, we’ve talked a lot about what the Agile Enterprise is, key components of it, discussing where we’re at holistically, what it takes to be a fully functioning Agile enterprise and some of us know and many of us do, that we’re not there. I’ve created a number of courses that I draw on, I also custom designed to ensure that an organization works and functions in an Agile way to support this vision of a healthy Agile Enterprise.
We know where we want to go but how we get there is the thoughtful design of a program that empowers leaders, management, leadership teams to be effectively Agile, to ensure agility not only in software development but in leadership throughout the organization. This is something that we can architect in your organization. Most problems personally, professionally are sourced in lack of communication but within an organization, within teams and without, that again, tuning to the customer in the marketplace.
We tend to suffer from a lack of asking questions, learning more. It exposes us to the possibility and necessity of change and we need to cultivate that as something we embrace as opposed to fear. It’s one thing to say it and to know it, it’s another thing to embody it in your own person, team, to others in your group, to those in which you have influence but once you start to do, there’s a shift and you get a ground flow and boom, then you get a cultural shift. It’s easier to know it than to do it well and continuously. We know that Agile works great in a small company but as you grow and expand, if the cultural operating system is not there, we lose traction and momentum quickly.
We must connect the dots between individual contributors, manager, director, and so on. Everyone is driving towards the same goal and it’s again, intentional program practice that ensures that we’re all playing from the same playbook and working together to transform our organization. So we’re running out of time. I wanna make sure we have at least a few minutes for questions. Again, you’ll have all these slides. I want to encourage you to do a gap analysis. We cannot realize the future vision without knowing that stage. The distance between us is the creative tension that could be tapped so that we can realize our vision.
If you need some help with the gap analysis, you don’t know how to do it, contact me. I can help you get there but this is the absolute beginning of creating the conditions for innovation. In conversing with them, Otto Berkes at CA Technologies, we’re having a conversation about innovation and we’re discussing the fact the whether software development or any kind of innovation, you can’t tell people to innovate. Innovation doesn’t happen by chance again and people innovate. You could only create the conditions for it and these are some of the conditions. Everything I’ve talked about, those are the conditions for innovation.
Of course, before acting comes aligning and that source the culture. Culture is tricky. It’s largely unconscious. It’s the sum of behaviors in the organization and it’s the strongest driver of long-term sustainability. That’s why Peter Drucker famously tells us, that not only does cultural eats strategy for breakfast, it’ll eat it for a snack. We could have the smartest people on a sophisticated strategy but if your culture is not aligned, we start, again, losing tractions.
So at this point, I want to just open it up to questions and I’m sorry, we just have a few minutes but I’d love to hear any comments you have and as you ask the questions, you chat them up to Ben. I’m going to put my contact information up there and feel free to reach out to me through my email or Cprime at any time.