Agile Transformation: Don’t forget the Team

In Life and business one always asks oneself: what is real and what is not real?  What is important, and what is not important?

And of course this is hard.  Well, parts are easy.  I am not interested in watching a Canasta game by random people (how many readers know the Canasta card game?), BUT I am very interested in talking to a family member whom I love.

But other parts are hard.  Should I read a great book, or listen to a popular song on the radio.  Well, the popular song has a “hook” and it is mildly addictive.  It attracts attention. But I probably won’t be able to recall it at all next week. The great book has an ol-fashioned cover.  But, for my money, I at least should read the great book. It will make my life better, more.

Similarly: When doing an Agile Transformation is seems so important to talk to smart people about the super-structure of “Agile Transformation”.  But what is really important?  The only thing that really makes agile worthwhile is “one team at a time”.   It is the Team, not the super-structure, that produces the energy and the creativity.  Each team (one team at a time) must become more productive, more happy, more innovative.  You could say one person at a time, but in agile we start to see it is one Team at a time.

Now, if we had completely mastered the Team thing, then by all means we should look outside the Team and get focused there.  But we have not.  We have not come close to getting all the potential out of one Team, let alone the 10 or 20 Teams that many transformation people have in the purview.

Focus on the Team.  That’s where the real life is.

OK, yes it is true that things outside the Team impact the Team.  For example, getting the right kind of support outside the Team from Executives (support possibly in many different ways) could have the next biggest impact on the Team.

But, if you work outside the Team, the proof of the usefulness of your work is whether it (soon) affected one or more Teams, and made it or them better.

“Why do you have to go and make things so complicated?”  (Not a bad song by Avril Lavigne.)


Let’s be fair.  The mess our larger organizations are in already has been worked on by truly clever people for a long time.  Uncomplicating that mess will take some time.  And, because there are a lot of people in your organization, it necessarily seems like it MUST be at least minimally complicated.

And we are dealing also with complicated problems, complicated customer problems.

So, I have some sympathy.

Still, Thoreau’s advice is very apt:

Simplicity!  Simplicity!  Simplicity!

We often express it as K.I.S.S.

And in agile, I think that mainly means: Keep the focus on the Team.



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