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?

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.   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 old-fashioned cover.  But, for my money, I at least would read the great book. It will make my life better, at least more than the alternative.

Similarly: When doing an Agile Transformation it 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 as 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 all 10 or 20 Teams that many transformation people have in their 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 could have the next biggest impact on the Team.  This support possibly come in many different ways.

Notice: If you work outside the Team, the proof of the usefulness of your work is whether the work improves one or more Teams, and made it or them better.  I do think Chickens or Chicken groups (possibly Chicken Scrum teams) can have a big and important impact for some (real Scrum) Teams.

“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, such as 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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