Agile Transformation: Establishing a Sense of Urgency

October 28, 2013

An Agile coach is consulted by the client primarily for two reasons:

  • They want proactive help, from start to finish, all through the transformation process.
  • The client tried doing it themselves with not-so-successful results in trying to adopt Agile.

From time to time there, it is found that there is disparity in what companies interpret Agile to be and what Agile actually is. After all, Agile is a new framework of product development and not just an extension of the traditional Software Development Lifecycle methodology.

It is tough to create major, organization-wide changes. The change method in the context of an Agile transformation is even more complicated, because more often than not, instead of coming down from the executive management, it has a propensity to to radiate out from the development group. Change has to be made effective at the highest level of management, then only will should change be implemented at the lower levels in the organization. It is, in this regard, that a sense of urgency needs to be created.

Creating urgency would require courageous and sometimes risk-inducing actions that are usually associated with good leader. We typically would not appreciate real leadership in today’s world as a majority of the organizations are over managed and under led, and managing everything is the central value. It’s hard to get expect a drastically different act from somebody one who has been appreciated more than two decades for being thoughtful and judicious.

A few ways to establish a sense of urgency are discussed below:

  • Create a predicament by making an organizational fiasco visible. Most businesses attempt to cover-up, obscure, or tone down organizational failures. So, if a key milestone like a product delivery date is missed instead of creating an excuse and blaming it square on the gridlock in the legal department, the failure has to be focused on, talked about, and used as leverage to shock people, so that they start thinking and talking about change.
  • Share data about economic performance and customer satisfaction index throughout the organization. This is another area where there is confusion to be found. It is difficult for most employees of the organization to feel a sense of urgency when the senior management is continuously communicating to the stakeholders that ‘all is well’. Economic performance and customer satisfaction data has to be shared across the organization so that everyone is conversing from the same point of reference.
  • Provide people with maximum information on the upcoming opportunities. All stakeholders have to be informed continuously about the many rewards for taking advantage of those opportunities, and the fact that the organization is mostly unable to fully utilize those opportunities. Apart from this, the shortcomings also need to be highlighted. This leads people to start asking questions, which in turn motivate them to become more competitive. They will try to go after the market opportunities.

This is how urgency may be increased. After all, creating a sense of urgency paves the way for sowing the seeds of successful change in an organization.


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