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/ 27. 8. 2019

Interview with Andrea Provaglio, agile coach

Andrea is an agile coach, that helps teams and managers to rethink their organizational dynamics, mindset, processes and practices, so that they can do business effectively in the 21st century. He is especially interested in distributed leadership and self-organization for knowledge-based organizations, non-conventional organizational structures and individual and collective communication and social skills.

You’ve been a part of agile world for a while. Why did you fall in love with it?

Andrea: Well, I didn’t “fall in love” with Agile. Rather, it always resonated with me, with the way I work and with my personal values. It seemed a sensible way to approach to the complexity of what we do in today’s world (although it’s not the only way). I think I can say I’m over the hype and I’m starting to ask myself what this is really all about and what we can do better than this.

What is the biggest challenge and why: innovate faster, develop self-managing teams or promote shared responsibility?

Andrea: Shared responsibility and self-managing teams go hand in hand. Innovation is faster when it’s able to leverage the diversity of perspectives and competencies while pursuing a shared vision. I believe that the first skills that we should promote and develop in companies are real self-managing skills and real personal responsibility, especially at the management level, and then work our way to agility from there, developing shared responsibility and self-organization in teams. Just to be more specific, a team is a group of people that support each other and hold themselves responsible in achieving a shared goal; a workgroup of people coordinated by a supervisor is not a team, and neither is a group of people who lack the organizational support for holding themselves accountable of their performance. 

With new leadership approaches - what do managers find the most challenging and what do employees crave the most?

Andrea: Managers: letting go of status and privileges; and developing a mindset that’s closer, metaphorically, to that of a gardener rather than an engineer. Employees in general: more time for themselves and a fair salary. Employees who care about their current work: the previous two-plus being in an environment that will let them work professionally and apply and grow their skills together with their colleagues.

If you would describe non-agile and agile companies with a metaphor of an animal, what would they be and why?

Andrea: "Traditional” companies, those that have a strong production-oriented mindset, are mainly about efficiency. This is not to say that all of them are actually efficient (in fact, quite few are) but that’s how they look at the world. An Agile company, on the other hand, is much more about being effective in a constantly mutating environment, even at the cost of reduced efficiency if necessary. For traditional companies (although it’s not a real-life animal) Scrat comes to mind — the goofy cartoon character with his single-minded obsession for acquiring nuts, regardless of what happens around him. For Agile (adaptive) companies, the chameleon is a common metaphor.

What is one main change you’d love to see in our work culture in companies in the next 10 years?

Andrea: More diversity, not only of people but especially of perspectives; more inclusivity; an approach to people that considers the individual as a whole; and to stop looking at highly intelligent and educated individuals as “resources” (quoting a tweet I read a while ago: “while you have to hire me I’m a talent; once you’ve hired me I’m a resource” — can’t remember the author, unfortunately).

If any of our participants are flirting with the idea to become agile coaches - what are 3 personal traits you find important for this kind of work?

Andrea: Self-awareness and self-reflection; keeping your ego at bay; a spirit of service within reasonable limits.

What is on your bucket list for 2019 that you really want to do?

Andrea: Probably a winter trip very up north in Norway.

Which (business) book did you read in the last few months that you would recommend?

Andrea: The Fearless Organization by Amy Edmondson.

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