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Jeff Dalton on Teaching Leaders How to Teach

| Podcast with Jeff Dalton Follow 1 Followers by Shane Hastie Follow 23 Followers on Jul 27, 2018 |

In this podcast Shane Hastie, Lead Editor for Culture & Methods, spoke to Jeff Dalton about the challenges of agile adoption in large organizations and the need to teach agile leaders how to teach so they can lead the cultural shift that is needed

Key Takeaways

  • The marketing of agility is going far better than the actual on the ground adoption 
  • When process-centric, low trust organisations adopt agile they bring that approach to their agile practices
  • The link between the soft skills and the hard technical practices of agile is what enables high quality and real agility, but many senior managers haven’t made the connection for themselves
  • There is no need for a new framework – the need is to enable leaders to leverage agility and teach that to other leaders and to their teams
  • The re-emergence of a focus on craftsmanship is a great thing, but it is not enough
  • 0:28 Introduction & background
  • 2:10 Assessing companies on their cultural adoption of agility since the early 2000’s
  • 2:40 Focusing on research around leadership
  • 3:10 The marketing of agility is going far better than the actual on the ground adoption
  • 3:30 The early adopters of agile were small companies and subsets of large organisations and they had great success in their niches
  • 3:40 As large companies try to adopt these approaches culture becomes a limiting factor 
  • 4:10 Examples of organisations where the culture often prevents collaboration across teams
  • 4:46 The Capability Maturity Model has a reputation of being heavyweight and process burdened, but the reality is that the model isn’t inherently like that; early adopter companies were process heavy and they applied their way of working to the model
  • 5:05 When those same process-centric, low trust organisations adopt agile they bring the same mindset behaviours to their approach
  • 5:32 Most large companies bring their existing structures and roles into an agile adoption and are not applying the practices as they are intended to be
  • 5:58 There is an organizational type-mismatch when the values and philosophy of the company are at odds with the high-trust, high-collaboration values and philosophies of agility
  • 6:37 Many senior executives in large organizations are keen on becoming “more agile” however they are not often keen to change the corporate culture to align with the agile philosophy
  • 7:03 The perceived benefits of agility are “get it fast and get it cheap”
  • 7:14 Many of the leaders in large organisations have followed a long “climb the greasy pole” path to achieve their positions and the lessons learned getting there are decidedly anti-agile
  • 7:50 The real benefits of agility are related to the “soft” areas of satisfaction, collaboration, motivation and engagement
  • 8:08 Harnessing the power of the soft skills is what makes teams successful
  • 8:32 The link between the soft skills and the hard technical practices of agile is what enables high quality and real agility, but many senior managers haven’t made the connection for themselves
  • 8:48 Examples of what happens at some large organisations
  • 9:32 The problem is the culture, it’s not the skills and competency of the people
  • 9:50 One approach to helping make the cultural change is teaching leaders at every level to teach their teams the key values and principles of the new ways of working
  • 11:04 Introducing a model The Agile Performance Holarchy
  • 11:14 Describing the six categories of teaching in the model
  • 11:42 There is no need for a new framework – the need is to enable leaders to leverage agility and teach that to other leaders and to their teams
  • 11:48 An example of using sprint planning across all levels of the organisation
  • 13:25 Ways to ensure the mindset shift is part of the teaching/learning rather than just practice compliance
  • 13:55 Adding peer observation to the process to ensure the truth does cascade up the organisation without being filtered because the people who are involved at the lover levels are the ones bringing the message up the hierarchy
  • 14:28 Rating groups practice areas at three levels – adopting, transforming and mastering
  • 14:44 Craftsmanship is one of the performance circles of the model
  • 14:50 The re-emergence of a focus on craftsmanship is a great thing, but it is not enough
  • 15:50 Many software organizations are dropping the ball on technical craftsmanship
  • 16:04 The envisioning circle is another aspect of the model – crafting a clear vision is something that the industry is generally pretty bad at
  • 16:40 Out of 300 organizations examined, 270 had a surrogate product owner
  • 17:04 Additional performance circles include teaming (the practices and approaches needed to form effective teams), affirming (ensuring quality) and providing (ensuring the teams have the physical environment they need to be successful)
  • 17:50 Procurement is something that is often overlooked when adopting agile and the procurement process for many organizations is broken
  • 18:10 The way contracts are written is often completely contradictory to the agile mindset
  • 19:05 Consultants can be helpful, but the real responsibility for teaching has to belong to the leaders
  • 19:24 Consultants are good to get you unstuck, but don’t keep them around for too long
  • 21:28 Things that leaders need to become competent in include unlearning old behaviours and “truths”
  • 21:46 A really important change is learning to not affix blame to a problem - blame causes fear
  • 22:19 You’re probably going to fail – when would you like to fail, early or late?
  • 23:05 Assignment of blame drives negative behaviour throughout the whole organization
  • 23:40 Another important skill is the ability to build an infrastructure to let people self-organize
  • 24:25 Strong leadership is required for self-organization to be effective – but this is a different type of leadership
  • 24:40 The elements that are needed for this new style of leadership to be effective
  • 25:26 Many of the things in the infrastructure for a self-organizing environment don’t exist in the typical environment
  • 27:05 This is a complete re-engineering of the way organizations work and it’s really simple, it’s just hard
  • 28:15 This is not happening in organizations because the leaders don’t know how to make it happen.  The model is a “how-ability” guide on how to make the changes needed
  • 28:52 There is an assessment model available which leaders can use to assess themselves and their organizations
  • 29:41 Mastering agility means extending the ideas and approaches beyond development teams into the whole organization

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