Agile transformation is not just at the team level. I can only name a few organizations out there that are serious about setting a culture of team empowerment, accountability, transparency, continuous improvement based on strong corporate values (Trust, Customer Focus, Humble Professionals) that help guide the interactions of employees at all levels of the organization. How many leaders truly understand what Agile is? How many leaders practice Agile? How many leaders are Agile?
It’s not enough to just have your teams go Agile without having your leaders embrace the Agile mindset. Talk is cheap, actions speak louder than words.
Leaders should start by seeking to learn Agile. To truly understand it, you need to practice it. That’s why I believe that creating a culture of continuous improvement by implementing retrospectives on a regular cadence is essential for leaders to truly grasp the essence and complexity of what an Agile transformation feels like and the value it provides. As an Executive Agile Coach, facilitating the initial retrospectives is pivotal. The facilitation, coaching and proper preparation is essential to produce a positive outcome and momentum.
What does an Agile team retrospective feel like?
Agile team retrospectives are not just for product deliverables and internal process improvements, but also for the team’s personal growth and development. Agile team’s retrospect on a regular basis. The personal aspect of the team’s retrospective is very demanding and uncomfortable: Agile teams are expected to share their weaknesses, be transparent, hold each other accountable, promote a safe environment to have healthy debates, admit their mistakes, support and teach each other, encourage other views, share their knowledge, be able to follow or lead, be open and encourage external feedback, embrace change, share their learning with other teams, be customer focused, commit to the team’s deliverables, track and measure their progress, fail or succeed as a team, do what’s best for the organization first, then what’s best for the team, and then what’s best for the individual. And at the end of this ongoing session, leave smiling and holding hands. No politics or ill will. This is ongoing, but there is a set cadence after each Sprint that is set aside to be hyper focused on our teams’ constraints and solutioning. This retrospective cadence is not a nice to have, but a must have.
Agile Leaders who implement a scheduled retrospective cadence, are truly invested in an Agile Culture Transformation. The cadence helps set in stone the continuous improvement mindset.
I encourage all Leaders to try this! We will get better together. This is a true commitment. I tell leaders every day your job is to feel uncomfortable every day. Face the tough question. Look for ways to expand your mind to different views.