Posts in "Organizations"

Not a big fan of scaling frameworks

This post is about Agile Scaling frameworks. But it could be applied to any kind of scaling framework in an organization.

I am not a big fan of frameworks. We should reflect on our challenges and areas for improvements, instead of look into what framework to use. Scaling frameworks are just inspiration. But the real focus should be the people. For scaling an organization, for pushing a transformation we need to know and understand the people and their interactions. An organizational change will come only if its individuals change.

Several years ago I spent a lot of hours thinking about frameworks and practices. I did not know what framework to use. And I remember a wise man telling me: “Do not force anything. Start with a clean slate and the organization will rise as a person develops his/her limbs and personality”. Each organization is different as each person is different as well. Don’t force anything. We need to spend as much time as needed understanding them so we can help them.

Of course, in this path we will run into practical problems. And we can get inspired by a framework or another. And if it is applicable, suggest it to our teams. But the first step should challenge them and see how they would do it. Help them to build their framework.

Zappos Holacracy

Do you know what Holacracy is? If not, you may want to check this: http://www.holacracy.org. Now, let’s talk about Tony Hsieh, Zappos CEO. Several weeks ago, Hsieh sent an internal memo to all his employees giving them the freedom of choice to align with major changes in the company. Holacracy is a new management structure, a tool designed for companies to become self-organizing. Zappos has been rolling out Holacracy since 2013. In this memo Hsieh describes the theory behind self-organization and he makes it clear: this is not a bluff. This is the path for the company and those who are reluctant to change must look for jobs in another company.

You can see the entire memo if you continue reading.

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Quick and dirty

As you may already read in many blogs and articles, Agile transformation is not a goal, there is no destination, it is a journey. A journey you must enjoy and taste each little success instead of trying to get to the end sooner. But too many organizations make the mistake of trying to do too much too soon, because their main focus is to “do agile” fast so they can improve their productivity.

This post will not focus on what is and what is not Agile. This post will focus on the impact that rush has on the organization. Let’s see this graph:

satir

This is the Satir change model that describes the effects each stage in a change process has on feelings, thinking, performance, and physiology of a person. But this is fully applicable to our topic. When you introduce any change in a system this will probably lead to an unstable state. And enforcing a change like this in a company will lead to quick and dirty implementations. And do you know what happens with the dirty? That remains after the quick fades. That is the main problem.

The dirty can take many forms. You can read several Agile transformation pitfalls here or here. And there are more. From my point of view, the most persistent dirt is the practices. When a company focuses on practices instead of agile principles and values it is highly likely to see a flawed transformation. Agile requires a complete mindset change. If not, you will end up in a hell of practices (dailys, sprint reviews…) that will take you to a complete chaos.

You have to be patient with the transformation process and allow the necessary time to adapt and embrace the change. As leaders your responsibility is to create the right environment, build a string leadership support, a culture of trust, respect and continuous improvement, identify and empower the agents of change and enjoy the journey.