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/ 30. 7. 2019

Agile transformation - why and when?

Matej Golob, partner at CorpoHub, talked about agile transformation with Sašo Palčič, founder of Madwise, via Facebook Live. Since the response to their conversation was very good, we decided to share a few highlights and thoughts Matej had regarding agile transformation and the pain behind it.

Q: If we imagine that we are ten years in the future, some companies managed to transform into agile, and some did not; where is the difference?

Matej: First of all, 50 % of the companies will not manage their agile transformation in the next ten years. Most of them have not even started, and once they start, it will take a while. I believe that companies that will not be a part of agile transformation simply won’t exist anymore. Only the ones that will transform will be able to adapt quickly to the ever-changing needs of the market.

Q: When is it best that you decide that you are simply not ready for agile transformation?

Matej: If you are not ready to change yourself or the way you work, it’s simply best that you don’t jump in the story of agile transformation. If you are not longing for change, if you are wishing to keep the status quo and if your idea of an agile transformation is “let’s have one workshop and then we are done” – don’t go there. It is far from easy, and it requires a significant change in mindset towards transparency and openness, and that is something that most (Slovenian) companies lack today.

Q: What is harder to implement – agile transformation with Scrum or lean?

Matej: There is a lot of fear in big corporations. Creating a shift from fear towards psychological safety, changing your mindset and the way you work on a day to day level is hard. That is why agile and Scrum is much harder than lean, which is more technical.

“Changing people is one of the biggest challenges out there.”

Q: Why do some people change their jobs and leave the teams, once the company starts with agile transformation?

Matej: A concept that is very related to agile and Scrum is a Japanese word Ikigai. It represents the overlap of things you are best at, things that people need and things you are passionate about. In agile teams, everybody knows why are they doing something, and they can relate to this purpose; they are passionate about achieving their goal. Some team members can, during the process of agile transformation, realize that they are doing something that is not a part of their Ikigai. In a case like this, it’s best for the whole team that they are not a part of that team anymore.

“In agile, the team counts on every individual to do their tasks and to self organize.”

If one team member did not perform, it would hurt the whole team, that would not reach their sprint goal.

Q: Can you first test agile transformation on a small team, or do you have to go all-in as a company?

Matej: Sure, testing Scrum on a smaller team makes perfect sense. You can track the behavior and performance for three months. And then observe, what will happen with the team and their results. Based on that you can (or not) decide to spread agile mindset through the whole company.

Q: How does transparency look like in agile concerning personal development of each team member?

Matej: Teams with the highest levels of psychological safety are deliberately developmental. That means that everyone is aware of both your strengths and your weaknesses and that you are open enough to share things you are not (yet) good at. In most (Slovenian) companies people do their daily job (something they are good at). They hide from other tasks so that they don’t have to admit that they don’t know how to do them. As you can imagine, an organization with such a mindset will not grow and develop very quickly.

Q: Are there companies in Slovenia that very good at agile transformation and that are already breathing Scrum etc.?

Matej: Of course there are. The ones that know Scrum are aware that Scrum began in IT companies and developers in several Slovenian companies became very good at using Scrum. Abroad there are several successful examples of non-IT companies that are using Scrum, and they are doing very well. In Slovenia, this is just a beginning.

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