It is almost that time of the year again where its time to take a short break and reflect and summarize how we did this year. This is also the time where there are Christmas events in most of the companies.
A few years ago in December I was able to join a Christmas event from one of our customers. The company is a midsize software company with something like 200 employees. As every year the CEO started with a brief presentation of successes and challenges from the past year. He concluded with a vision for the next: Let us change our organization to a more agile organization. He told the employees: ‚I invite all of you to take more responsibility, create new structures, find new ways of working and help design a better organization‘. Inspired from the vision the staff headed off to the party.
Half a year later I had a conversation with the CEO about what happened after the Christmas event in regards to his vision. ‚I can hardly see any change‘ he said. ‚It is as if people don’t want to take more responsibility and create something new although I told them that this is what we want. Sometimes I even think we might have the wrong people.‘ He was very frustrated about that situation and asked for help what to do.
Did you ever find yourself in a situation like this? Either as a Scrum Master trying to help a team to gain more motivation? Or as higher level manager asking people to take more responsibility? But nothing happens? From our experience in working with agile teams this is a tricky situation. Although telling people what you want is a first valuable step it is much more important to create supportive boundary conditions and environments. This is the most essential prerequisite to make that change happen.
Do people have all the information they need to make informed decisions? Do they trust each other and do you trust them? Do they have all the required skills to take ownership? And do they have and feel that they have the authority to make decisions?
Creating supportive environments for teams which foster self management is one of the key responsibilities for leaders in an agile organization. If you want your company to change, it starts with shifting focus of your own work from achieving results to creating supportive environments.
It starts with changing yourself. Your thinking, your behaviors.
The company from above is today pretty far ahead of where they have been three years ago. Leadership has turned focus on learning inside of the organization. Most of their teams are successful and organizational development is a shared task in a cross level group.
Leadership is key.
First published on LinkedIn on November 27th 2018