There are all sorts of ideas. And those who have visions should consult a physician, as Helmut Schmidt once said. After all, the most important thing is that the business runs efficiently, and wild ideas only get in the way of that. If they nevertheless haunt your organization, here are three surefire ways to kill any innovation right from the start.
Scrum is a deceptively simple framework for agile product development. Besides the development team there are only the roles Product Owner and Scrum Master. The process is lean and requires only a few artifacts and events (as the meetings in Scrum are called). This simplicity leads in practice to all kinds of fake agile and cargo cult – lovely but rather ineffective drama. To prevent this from happening, there is the Scrum Master. Unfortunately, this important role suffers from many misinterpretations, as the following three anti-patterns illustrate.
Copying Spotify or simply implementing any other blueprint of an agile organization is a fundamental mistake. Not because the models themselves were poor, but because implementing a model of an agile organization that has been chosen or developed by a few managers, experts or consultants from top to bottom contradicts the essential principle of self-organization. Agile organizations are always emergent in the sense that they result from the cooperation of self-organizing teams towards a common vision and are constantly evolving. Therefore, it is crucial for a sustainable agile transformation to withstand the pressure to deliver short-term successes and to empathetically and confidently give people the space and time to learn and grow together. As tempting as blueprints and their large-scale implementation may look, it is precisely this that leads the agile transformation into a dead end.
Change and change management was yesterday. Today we are doing transformations. A digital transformation for business models, because data is the new oil. An agile transformation for the organization and its processes, because flexibility and speed are essential in times of great uncertainty. Unfortunately often only the name has changed and where it is labelled with transformation it actually contains very traditional – and very tayloristic – change management. That’s why panaceas and blueprints are on the rise: simply introduce LeSS or SAFe or copy Spotify and call this your agile transformation. However, this completely ignores the nature of a transformation as a natural development process of a complex system in favor of a pattern that has so far only worked reasonably well, but is at least well-known and appears well manageable: simply transforming the organization and the people in it like a complicated machine. Accompanied, of course, by all kinds of “change theatre”, because somehow you have to win the people. A successful transformation that deserves this name, however, is based on visions instead …
How do people cope with change? Family therapist Virginia Satir has provided an interesting model that can also be applied to organizational changes. A stable status quo is challenged by a foreign element. After initial resistance to the foreign element, the confrontation with it initially leads to uncertainty and chaos and thus to a loss in productivity. Depending on the strength of this impulse, this phase lasts for a longer or shorter period of time until the chances of change are finally understood and utilized. Gradually, the group will return to its original productivity and hopefully grow even further. In essence, however, this model means that change can never come for free. As trivial as this sounds, organizations rarely admit this in both large and small changes. And then fail due to false expectations and their impatience.