How Do I Raise Awareness of Transformation Problems?

Or “We are mid-transformation. What problems do we expect to see?”

Premise

OK, so not the greatest name as their really isn’t a “mid-transformation”; it just keeps on going. But the idea was to say “it seems like we are doing so well - what could possibly go wrong” and realize the this is a time of large danger and people go on auto mode and we are not yet sustaining based practices let alone overall mindset.

An approach I've used is to do a facilitated workshop session aimed at working this issue.

Learning Outcomes

  • Develop sensitivity for some of the issues seem in previous transformations so we can intercede as possible
  • Determine if there is something we need to worry about right now

Materials

Printout of items that coaches have seen in the past (see below)

Facilitation

  • Table-by-table. Review items that coaches have seen in the past? Which ones have you seen? Debrief each table.
  • Table-by-table. What other items do you think might be an issue? Debrief each table.
  • Room. Gather up the items talked about at each of the tables. Dot vote on which ones are a concern right now.
  • Room. Take top few. Law of two feet to determine plan (if any) to address. Debrief.
  • Room. Capture actions, next steps, clarity
  • Room. Fist of five on result on result

A List of Smells

Smells coaches came up with:

  • Direct backsliding to old ways of working and thinking
  • People using agile terminology while still working in old ways
  • Key impediments that we have identified again and again are not progressing
  • People that were early in the transformation not seeing the learning from those who started later
  • Management worrying about their status at the expense of the common objective
  • Inability to bring on new people to the new way resulting in confusion and regression
  • Stagnation of learning – no one going out to learn more
  • Systems in place encourage “follow the plan” approach instead of option seeking, innovation approach
  • All capacity allocated to features ignoring technical debt, learning, and innovation
  • Inability to change to flow based optimization of value delivery (focus on utilization and cost accounting)
  • Inability to establish new roles as something valuable to the organization
  • Non-IT organizations not adapting to new approach and mindset
  • The statement from management is “but we’re agile” actually means “do what I say and meet all your other commitments as well”
  • Not respecting the “Team” – people trying to identify people to work something instead of bringing work to the team
  • Inability to move from “we must do everything” to “this is best use of our capacity” thinking
  • Constantly investing in new capabilities at the expense of existing quality, reliability and other issues
  • Not creating real, stable, high performing teams
  • Agile ceremonies turning into status meetings instead of working meetings
  • Focusing too much on expected results at the expense of establishing fast feedback loops
  • Different agendas mean that alignment statements are meaningless

Note: if you are running this workshop session, you will want to tailor these to suite your environment. Examples I've seen include:

  • Cannot seat Teams together
  • Wrong mix of people on the Teams (mixing oil and water)
  • Inability to do Agile mentor-ship by leadership
  • Focus on “expected result” instead of “fast feedback”
  • No DevOpsSec
  • Losing common sense in the face of the new ceremonies etc.
  • Not filling named roles
  • Misuse of “agile”
  • Inability to see tangible results
  • Non-agile Teams (hiding behind ceremonies)
  • Hybrid organizational friction, especially with Projects
  • Burn-out risk as people now assume two roles / jobs
  • Lack of understanding of other Teams value (cross-organization)
  • No real road-map - only see current quarter

Want to Know More?

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