- “Why should we engage an Agile consultancy like yourself to help us transform? “
- “Why do we need to have someone coach our project teams, middle management, and executives?”
- “Can’t we just send our staff to attend an Agile training and then we can implement Agile by ourselves?”
Many companies are making big investments in training, giving the strategic direction for all teams to adopt Agile, and then trying to implement an Agile transformation all by themselves. Often, this approach results in an unsatisfactory output, leading to teams and stakeholders telling me that “Agile doesn’t work for us”. But why?
First, transforming an organisation is not easy. It demands a lot of change, from different levels and functions within the organization. The change may affect existing ways of working, relationships with stakeholders, culture and mindset (amongst other aspects). This change doesn’t happen overnight, especially in companies who’ve worked in a certain way for decades. Bringing about and managing this change requires someone with specific expertise and experience in change management. An expert shouldn’t be only knowledgeable in Agile, but they also need to help the C-level understand its place in the strategic context, and then coaches them to become successful agile leaders.
There is a saying in Mandarin, “Visiting monks give better sermons. (外来的和尚好念经)”. This explains the role of a consultant well - compared to an insider, external advisor stands in a neutral position to observe and provide advice from a different perspective. Their tendency to abstain from political complexity can help provide specific insights to or about a team, leaders or indeed an organisation.
Last but not least, an Agile coach is very different from an Agile practitioner. A person who has Agile knowledge isn’t necessarily a competent Agile coach. To be a good Agile coach, one needs to be a practitioner who also understands: the change landscape, how to assess the readiness of the organisation and stakeholders to accept change, how to enable the organisation to change, and sustaining and reinforcing the change. All of this requires a different set of skills than just ‘Agile’.
I strongly recommend all the companies who are going through their transformation journey to find the right partner to work with. Although there isn’t 100% guarantee of success before you start, it’ll definitely avoid any unnecessary failure.
I wish you all a successful and happy transformation journey!