During the years 2009 – 2012, I worked at a small company called iContact here in the Raleigh/Durham area. iContact had developed an email marketing, SaaS application that competed (still does) with the likes of Constant Contact and MailChimp.
Ryan Allis was our CEO at the time and he was very innovative when it came to organizational change & evolution and leadership development. He happened to read The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, by Patrick Lencioni at that time, and became enamored with the ideas contained within.
At the same time, we were adopting agile (Scrum, Kanban, and Scrum of Scrums for scaling) across the organization. Quite successfully, I might add. So, the two efforts naturally converged. And I was pleasantly surprised how well our Agile efforts and the 5 Dysfunctions blended together. That’s really what this article is all about.
5 Dysfunctions & Agile, like Peanut Butter and…
We’ve all heard of the KISS principle. It stands for: keep it simple, stupid.
Well I want to apply it to software development leadership. Particularly those leaders that are in an agile context.
I’ve been hearing a tremendous amount of pushback and whining amongst leaders in agile contexts of late. What you say. How can this be?
Here’s a sampling of the running types of dialogue (complaints, whining, pushback, etc.) that I’m referring to:
- We’ve already committed to customers a release date for a new, highly profitable product by June 1. However, the agile teams keep saying it will take till January. I thought agile would allow us to get more…faster. It’s sounds like every other time when the teams couldn’t seem to meet our demands. Where’s the creativity? Where’s the can-do attitude? Where’s the commitment to hard work? Where’s the agility?
I was chatting with some colleagues the other day and the topic of agile maturity came up. Particularly for Technology Leaders who are inquiring about agile approaches.
These could be leaders who are new to agile and want to start the transformation OR leaders who are currently engaged in a transformation and looking for assistance.
The questions were around, how to tell IF:
- Do they truly “get” or understand agility?
- Are they really “ready” for it?
- Are they serious about it?
- Are they a good candidate for a coaching engagement?
- And, are they properly aligned with the principles of the coaching/consulting firm?
Some of the questions focused towards money. In fact, quite a few of them. Questions here were around budgets, the contractual/approval process, and payment terms.
I was almost embarrassed to admit that these are not forefront in my mind when I’m engaging clients. My feeling is that they sort of take care of themselves. What I care more about is how I perceive the Inspection Report - February 2017 client’s answers to the first set of questions AND how do they align with my own principles.
In a previous post, I tried to create a “Call to Arms” for Scrum Coaches and Trainers to do much more than simple, team-based training. While that seems to be a great deal of our focus, I don’t think it’s creating the environment and landscape for agile methods and Scrum in particular to “Transform the world of work”.
In early May 2014, I was at the Scrum Gathering in New Orleans and hanging out with a significant part of the CST and CSC community. A great deal of the discussion on how to “Transform the world of work” is focused on training and certifications. To be honest, I’m quite disappointed on the lip service that is largely given to the world of agile coaching. And coaching “downward”, toward the team, is most of that coaching focus.