You would think by this late stage in the life of Agile and Agility that the concepts would be well embedded in organisational transformation, people assessments and processes. From my experience I’ve never seen Agile actually fail, I seen people pervert its meaning and make up their own versions then blame a framework for personal incompetence. Likewise I’ve not seen DevOps fail either.

There is something at the heart of business that hates the idea of being associated with failure in European culture. It’s not even logical as Socrates proposed a logical form that constantly tested (hence willingness even a desire to fail to find truth) by debate. The Socratic method is a form of cooperative argumentative dialogue between individuals, based on asking and answering questions to stimulate critical thinking and to draw out ideas and underlying presumptions. Concern around failure relies on deep seated fears around not being able to prove worth and conversely the chance that any hint of failure transfers on to the person rather than the thing.

Fail Fast, fail Small to avoid failing Big and failing Slow

Fail Fast in organisational transformation, people assessments and processes

If your going to really take this on you should start at the beginning, planning the programme and making the case. Instead of getting some expensive consultants who want to try something in your company (no many how many times they say they have done it elsewhere) get one or two Agile DevOps strategists (these are certified Scrum practitioners) and get 60/100 of your staff from all levels into a room and do a two day hackathon. Will they hack your company, no they will hack the problem and hidden problems to define the ‘Problem Statement’ on day 1, on day 2 they will map out all the moving part to define the scope. Could it fail, absolutely, could it save 12 months of 6 consultants on £2500 a day absolutely.

Start at the beginning with people too, most management exists either to direct work (which should be automated or manage people who are not trusted) or to circumvent freakishly hard processes to get the most simple things done. If your planning on changing the emphasis in your company from hierarchy to teams and outcomes, you must offer the incumbents a way to revalidate themselves or they will actively seeking to cripple or pervert the programme to suit themselves. Quickly test the water with an alternative career path based on knowledge not prestige or headcount. See how many people will sign up to not having to manage people, be appreciated for their knowledge and be paid them same as now? You may be surprised.

Processes in this scenario begin to take care of themselves but its always go to run some ‘what if’ or ‘unhappy path’ testing too, to create checks and balances around change.

Fail Small in organisational transformation, people assessments and processes

When you have worked out your plan, don’t enact the whole thing choose a critical path (if thats what fits with your company targets), a happy path for customers or a low risk path and do the MVE, that’s minimum viable experience to success. Viability in transformation  is really important and often missed, viability is the whole not the part in transformation.

Don’t make a door handle that doesn’t unlock the door

You’d think that would be impossible but the MVP of a door handle is a door handle that looks like a handle making the mechanism to open a door is the MVE. Often in a transformation people focus on rebranding, a new and more exclusive hierarchy, but that is just the look of things, making it work means that the people and machines that customers and colleagues interact with it, do so with higher quality, are quicker, traceable, with measurable delivery.

Fail Big and Slow

This is pretty much a description of most businesses in their current state though many would not see themselves that way. My first question to any organisation is ‘where do you get your money from’, ‘why do you get it’, ‘are there anythings expected of you to continue to get it’. Weather your a corporation, government organisation or corner shop, getting the money to operate and pay people is part of the clear line around purpose and value. When you have clarity on those compare your ideals with where you are now, are you failing steadily, but very slowly? If the answer is yes, you need help. Contact us here

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