Don’t: autonomy as a starting point
In practice, many organisations start with releasing autonomy in phase one. Not a strange thought, since Agile is about the development of the self-steering capacity within teams. Through this autonomous working environment, ownership of the employees is increased, which continuously improves and stimulates quick decision-making. However, by starting with autonomy, undesirable results can arise, such as lack of clarity and uncertainty within teams. Previously, the manager was responsible for the division of tasks. Working in an Agile environment, team members need to prioritize and distribute tasks. What might happen, is that teams don’t work in the same direction without the formulation of a clear goal. In short, giving too much autonomy at the beginning of an Agile Transformation is a Don’t!
Do: start with objectives and craftsmanship
In phase one, it is very important to provide intensive guidance to teams when setting objectives. What is the higher goal for working in an Agile environment? Is it being a flexible organisation or is it continually improving services and / or products? In this way guidance is given to teams, but no top-down obligations like in a traditional organisational structure. Transparency is crucial here – by involving teams and informing them about the state of the transformation, support within teams will be increased.
When objectives for the teams and the organisation are clear, phase two is discussed. However, teams are better to transform themselves – guidance is needed to develop craftsmanship. This is central in the second phase. It is important to ask yourself: is an employee able to work in the self-managing environment? Within the Agile way of work, high results are achieved by direct feedback loops. The skill to give feedback to each other about work processes and cooperation is therefore important. Craftsmanship is closely connected with cooperation and both are important in phase two to achieve the right result.
When phase one and two have gone well, the organisation is ‘finally’ ready for phase three: stimulating autonomy in (self-managing) teams. With clear objectives and sufficient workmanship among employees, one is able to move in an Agile way of work. Confidence plays an important role in this phase to promote movement in teams.
It takes time and intensive guidance to keep an Agile Transformation in good shape. The absolute ‘Do’s’ in a row:
- Start with defining objectives where transparency is a core element.
- Subsequently, development is required in the craftsmanship of the employees and the organisation, whereby cooperation must be facilitated.
- Finally, teams will use the freedom of movement to act autonomously in which trust arises. However, intensive counseling will decrease, the guidance of teams is still required for example by an Agile Coach.