Agile transformations can be very laborious and expensive in terms of time and money. What if I told you that you can short-circuit the process and perform your transformation in the blink of an eye?
Did I get your attention? Keep reading.
Agile transformations are simple, so I can think of only three reasons for performing them:
- Poisonous culture
- Incapable management
- Low productivity
To be honest, many who feel the need to undergo an agile transformation don’t really know what they want to achieve and which of the above problems they want to solve, but that doesn’t really matter. Let’s get to the solutions to the problems instead!
Poisonous culture can manifest itself in many ways and eventually leads to fear, distrust, and stress. The result is employee turnover and poor productivity. Therefore, some agile transformations will specifically target the culture. The only problem is that there’s an ancient proverb that says “culture eats agile coaches for breakfast.” This is totally true, because culture is really hard to change, and here’s why: Culture is set by management. Top management sets the “flavour” of the company and lives it and exemplifies it in everything it does. This, in turn, trickles down to middle management, who set, and dilute, the culture in their departments or groups.
The key observation about culture is that it’s not a theoretical tool or working agreement. As I said, management lives the culture and provides live day-to-day examples of values and behaviors…. Whether they’re aware of it or not. Therefore, if you want to change the culture, you need to get some fresh blood into the organization; people who value the things you want your organization to value, There needs to be a critical mass of them too. Therefore it’s safest to replace 50% of the management or more to change the culture.
Poor management practices are a result of people being promoted to their level of incompetence, people who are not mature enough to lead others, or people who have not received adequate training… or a mix thereof (and some other factors.) Some of these can be addressed through professional coaching, mentorship, or training. True, I give you that. But if the aforementioned also affects culture it’s far easier to replace the managers. If the problems with management are severe enough to call for an agile transformation, they’re severe enough to call for a replacement of the management. 50% is a safe number.
Lastly, while poor productivity is certainly strongly affected by a poisonous culture or poor management practices, it’s also an effect of poor teamwork, poor ways of work and inadequate skills. Again, skills can be taught or mentored… to some extent. However, there needs to be a critical mass of people with a sufficient skill set in the organization; people who will mentor their colleagues.
If that critical mass is missing, it’s probably easier to… you guessed it. Replace a fair share of people, like 25-50%, to get fresh competence into the organization. And while at it, replace roughly 50% of the middle management, because they were highly instrumental in creating an unproductive organization.
There you have it. Quick and easy, right?
- In case of poisonous culture or incapable management, replace 50% of the management.
- In case of poor productivity, replace 25-50% of the employees and a fair share of the management (like 50%).