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E2W Technology Workshop - Agile Transformations

E2W Technology Workshop - Agile Transformations

Rhian Bowler / 08 Dec 2017

There was much interest in the Deutsche Bank auditorium as our specialist speaker and E2W member Manal Koujan delivered her inspiring and engaging talk about ‘The role of leadership in agile and how does leadership influence transformation success or failure?  What are the challenges the leadership face to implement agile transformations?

Many organisations are embracing Lean-Agile working to drive high performance teams and improve overall company performance.  Many of the delegates shared insightful questions to clarify some of the challenges they face in their own companies.  

The key features of Lean-Agile shared were;

Lean-Agile people are ‘E’ shaped people, displaying discipline, flexibility, adaptability, self-motivation, a can-do attitude, and willingness to learn.  Adaptability and flexibility are key.  Netflix talks about the ‘Rare Responsible Person’ when discussing the key attributes of a Lean-Agile person. Self-motivation, leadership skills, continual learning and reflection are key attributes.  In context ‘I’ shaped people are known as specialists, ‘T’ shaped people are specialist but have broader capability/understanding and ‘E’ people can do everything! 

Lean-Agile teams talk about predictability and if the team can meet commitments.  They focus on value not just the results and always ask “How can we do things better?” and “What value are we delivering to the business?”  Lean-Agile teams can operate as specialists and generalists, are self-managing, and interchangeable in tasks.  They are self-managing with shared leadership and accountability. Examples include the GB Cycling Team Pursuit and DIY SOS i.e. all willing to pitch in and do any task to ensure success.  Lean-Agile teams aim to become effective and efficient with sustainable long-term performance. High-Performance Teams have similar motivations but can be more specialists and focused on short-term goals: examples include the New Zealand Rugby Team & F1 teams.

Leadership is the foundation of Lean-Agile transformations.  Lean-Agile Leaders must learn, embrace and display the Lean-Agile values and principles first. They teach and inspire their team to ensure that the values and principles are adopted and help everyone including their business to ‘speak the same language’.  Lean-Agile Leaders are responsible for nurturing and growing teams, unlocking intrinsic motivation and abilities, ensuring success.  

Lean-Agile Agile teams focus on the value they deliver to the organisation, and not just the output.  Delivering a product that doesn’t meet shifting requirements is pointless.  Developing shorter feedback cycles where teams can ‘inspect & adapt’ ensure teams continue to improve and deliver value.  Technology teams and the business must work closely together – full and complete partnership, each holding the other to account to deliver this value.  

Challenges to overcome

  • Getting buy in and educating the business can be a challenge
  • Finding e-shaped people isn’t always easy!
  • Established organisation structures can create obstacles to implement Lean-Agile successfully e.g. staffing structures, pay and compensation, performance management
  • Letting teams fail, learn and adapt can be counter-intuitive.  Always guide, support and don’t take control.
  • Continually challenging each other to learn, inspire, grow, question, and be comfortable not knowing must be nurtured.

Agile Event Feedback
It was very informative. Manal is a fantastic speaker and very inspiring! (Margit, E2W Member)
It was an enjoyable evening.  I would rate the session 10/10.  Manal makes it all very pleasant to learn and practice. I would love the opportunity to learn more from her sessions. (Cleide, E2W Member)

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