Skip to main content

Digesting Change

Two different customers have recently raised the issue of managing (or rather digesting) change in organizations that are resistant to change. "Our company is over 100 years old and people get suspicious whenever you propose too many new ideas."

So how do we get people moving in the right direction without disrupting work and without provoking resistance? Brett Bernstein recently wrote on the scrumdevelopment mailing list.
"One challenge that I have continually come across when introducing new principals/practices is the flow rate. Too much flow and people start to choke. Too little, and they don't get to that "a-ha!" moment....

"I think your challenge is in part to figure out the right flow rate for your organization. It gets tricky since different flow rates might be needed for different levels (team vs. management) and different individuals...."

So how much change can the organization handle? And which changes should you do?

I have found the Scrum retrospective to be a powerful tool for building and motivating a team. Even if you haven't started doing Scrum yet, you can do a retrospective (you don't even have to say the word "Scrum").

If the retrospective is moderated correctly, you and your team
  1. build a common understanding of the events leading the current situation
  2. recognize the team's accomplishments
  3. produce two prioritized lists of potential improvements: a list of own improvements which the team can implement without further coordination or approval. The second list requires coordination with other entitites, such as management, customer, or other teams, perhaps to get budget, approval, cooperation or whatever.
So start with a retrospective. You and your team agree to implement the top 2 or 3 items in the own list and to negotiate agreements with the concerned parties to implement the top 2 or 3 items in the other list. The deadline is the next retrospective meeting 4 weeks in the future.

What does this process achieve?
  1. You have recognized what the team is doing well and established a basis of mutual respect.
  2. You are empowering your team and encouraging them to work as team. They have identified problems and proposed solutions.
  3. The team will accept the changes. They proposed them and prioritized them, so it is only logical that they stand behind them.
  4. You are keeping the scope achievable. By limiting the number of improvements to tackled at once, you increase the chances of success, reduce the chances of overwhelming the team and keep most of your energy focussed on value producing tasks.
  5. You, their manager, are earning their trust and loyalty. By doing what they proposed, you are making yourself useful to them. (Of course, if you don't let them do what they proposed, you risk losing their trust!)
The process is self regulating, because every month you repeat the process. The issues that demand attention will rise to the top and stay at the top until they no longer need attention. If resistance to change is becoming an issue, that too will become a topic. In any case, you can deal with the problems as they arise and directly at the source: the place where they originated is the place where they can be solved.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Sample Definition of Done

Why does Scrum have a Definition of Done? Simple, everyone involved in the project needs to know and understand what Done means. Furthermore, Done should be really done, as in, 'there is nothing stopping us from earning value with this function, except maybe the go-ahead from the Product Owner. Consider the alternative:
Project Manager: Is this function done?
Developer: Yes
Project Manager: So we can ship it?
Developer: Well, No. It needs to be tested, and I need to write some documentation, but the code works, really. I tested it... (pause) ...on my machine. What's wrong with this exchange? To the developer and to the project manager, "done" means something rather different. To the developer in this case, done means: "I don't have to work on this piece of code any more (unless the tester tells me something is wrong)." The project leader is looking for a statement that the code is ready to ship.

At its most basic level, a definition of Done creates a sh…

Scaling Scrum: SAFe, DAD, or LeSS?

Participants in last week's Scrum MasterClass wanted to evaluate approaches to scaling Scrum and Agile for their large enterprise. So I set out to review the available frameworks. Which one is best for your situation?

Recently a number of approaches have started gaining attention, including the Scaled Agile Framework ("SAFe") by Dean Leffingwell, Disciplined Agile Development (DAD), by Scott Ambler, and Large Scale Scrum (LeSS), by Craig Larman and Bas Vodde. (Follow the links for white papers or overviews of each approach).

How to compare these approaches? My starting point is Scrum in the team. Scrum has proven very effective at helping teams perform, even though it does not directly address the issues surrounding larger organizations and teams. An approach to scaling Scrum should not be inconsistent with Scrum itself.

Scrum implements a small number of principles and constraints: Inspect and Adapt. An interdisciplinary Team solves the problem. Deliver something of va…

What is the role of a Business Analyst in Scrum?

When I teach a CSM class, my goal is that my participants go home delighted (and of course that they learn about Scrum, that they are motivated to do Scrum, and can pass the online CSM exam). So after every class, I ask for feedback, in particular what could I do to get a better score. And for the next class, I strive to implement or address two or three of the points raised by my participants.

One issue that was raised was unanswered questions. It is annoying to ask questions and not get answers! Time is limited, so it is not always possible to answer all questions, so I thought, why not answer them on my blog? So here goes, first question:
What is the role of a Business Analyst in Scrum? This question is a challenge because Scrum doesn't answer this question! Scrum is a simple, team-based framework for solving complex problems. The roles and ceremonies in Scrum are designed to ensure that inspect and adapt can occur regularly with complete and correct information. Scrum does not…