Many New Zealand organisations are talking about Agile and using Agile, often on specific projects and in specific areas. But how many can truly say they have embraced Agile right into the heart of their culture and leadership to deliver a high performance Agile organisation?
Organisations in New Zealand are not realising the full benefits from Agile and it's time we fixed this problem.
This week we hosted Michael Sahota and his wife and coach Audree in Wellington, New Zealand. Michael is a Toronto-based Certified Enterprise Coach with expertise in creating the right cultural and leadership context for delivering high performance Agile organisations. As part of his visit, he facilitated a Certified Agile Leadership course in partnership with us, attended by Equinox IT clients and staff.
Tuesday evening Michael presented to IT executives at an Equinox IT hosted event on the topic of 'Delivering a high performance Agile organisation'.
Michael's presentation covered critical thinking for anyone looking to achieve more from Agile in their organisations. Here is a brief summary of some points from the presentation:
- Michael polled the audience on their reasons for using Agile, with responses including 'to deliver business value faster' / 'reduce time to value', 'reduce risk', 'deliver the right thing at the right time', 'adapt to change', 'grow trust' and so on.
- We need to remove the 'Agile blinders' and stop focusing on 'Agile initiatives'. The focus needs to be on serving the organisation's purpose, and Agile is 'one' means to achieving this. Agile is not a goal or an end in itself.
- Michael polled the audience on who agreed with "Agile is a means, not an end", with the majority of the audience agreeing or strongly agreeing as per the below responses.
- Michael polled the audience on their biggest challenges with Agile, with responses including 'governance', 'business engagement', 'executive level engagement', 'contractual', 'tensions with non-agile parts of the organisation', 'traditional finance models' and so on.
- Referencing VersionOne research, Michael showed that 'culture' is the number one challenge that organisations face when adopting and scaling Agile. In other words, organisations focus too much on Agile practices to 'do Agile' and not enough on Agile mind-set and the cultural aspects required to 'be Agile'.
- Michael presented his Sahota Culture Model as a way of thinking about the consciousness and structure aspects of culture and also spoke about culture bubbles, where an Agile culture may exist in a part, but not across the whole of the organisation.
- Quoting Edgar Schein "when we examine culture and leadership closely, we see that they are two sides of the same coin; neither can really be understood by itself". So when the VersionOne research shows that 'culture' is the number one challenge to Agile, what we need to understand is that 'culture and leadership' are the number one challenge to Agile.
- Showing the typical airline safety card image of placing the oxygen mask on yourself first before helping your child, Michael positioned that leaders need to go first and show up and lead differently for Agile to succeed. Having delivery teams go first by learning Agile practices will not result in lasting and successful Agile change.
- Michael polled the audience with the question "to have the impact that I want, I need to grow myself", with the majority of the audience agreeing or strongly agreeing, as per the below responses.
- Referencing Mahatma Gandhi, Michael explained that we need to model different leadership behaviour - "be the change that you want to see in the world".
- Michael polled the audience with the question "for my organisation to thrive in the future, leaders need to model new behaviours" with the majority of the audience agreeing or strongly agreeing as per the below responses.
- In the Certified Agile Leadership course Michael covers a full playbook for leading high performance organisations.
Many thanks for Michael and Audree for making the long trip to New Zealand and for making the time to work with us on the Certified Agile Leadership training course and also Tuesday evening's executive event.