Drive Fast in the Fog

Many organizations today simply embrace agility because they "think" it will make them go faster, thus beating their competition. If done under the correct values and principles of agile; it usually will. Not usually for the reasons that the organization believes it will. Most people on the periphery of agile simply think that installing a process like Scrum will make them go faster (magically through the pixie dust method). However, in my experience, Scrum will actually slow them down at first. The values of Scrum are practiced over time and it takes time for people to learn them. 

Coupled with the fact that many organizations have what I call "Organizational ADD", they actually want us to go faster despite uncertain goals and priorities. They select agile because it gives them the illusion that we should be flexible to change. True market change, yes. But lack of discipline and rigor, no. We have to ensure we have professionals in our organization that understand the market and the business problems our product is going to solve in that market. Very few markets have radical change each and every day. But alas, we can change because "WE ARE AGILE!". They hide behind that word agile to cover-up the disfunction of competing priorities among their stakeholders. 

Pete Behrens taught a Certified Agile Leadership class back in May that I attended. I loved the words he used to describe how typical organizational leadership has requests of our teams that essentially translate into "drive fast in the fog". If you were driving along a foggy highway and someone suddenly forced you (however that might happen) to drive faster, what would you do?

  • Turn on your lights? (gain clarity as far ahead as you could and make sure others can see you)
  • Become more tense and aware of your surroundings; minimizing distractions? (focus)
  • Turn on your hazards to indicate you are in a focused mode so others can see you?
  • Turn on fog lights (lighting a narrower path immediately in front of you)?
  • Turn off the radio? (focus)
  • Refer to your compass more frequently? (verifying your position)
  • Muster up the courage to undertake the challenge?
  • Use safety belts incase something bad happens?
  • Search your inner soul for quick reflexes?

What things would you do to minimize the thought of accidents if you were told to drive faster in the fog? 

This phrase is inherent to our competition today. We like to think of it as hyper-competition. We are pressured to innovate and differentiate ourselves in the market. That becomes increasingly more difficult. It is no longer good enough to simply copy what someone else is doing; soon you will be dead to the market. 

These are real problems to solve for organizations and they go beyond Scrum and agile. They are about leadership. Equipping the organization to lead culture change that allows us to drive faster in the fog through self-organized / competent teams. It revolves our discovering your organization's current personality profile (it's cultural tendencies) and allowing structure and process change to happen within the value framework of that culture. 

Leadership agility has nothing to do with the agile manifesto or Scrum. It has to do with people and change. Don't lose site of the fact that within your Scrum process changes, people are most important. 

Our goal is to foster a culture of creativity (an adaptive mind for our people and leaders) as well as agility (the adaptive body to execute). We want our people make better decisions; take more effective action amid the complexity, uncertainty, and rapid change.