Over the past few weeks, I’ve met the heroes behind some of the most well-known attempts at Agile and digital transformations in Financial Services. Dissecting why l use the term “attempts” is a post of its own with twists and turns from uplifting hopeful stories down to slides showing how every step or a consultancy’s framework deck was “achieved” while no one in the teams had even heard of the manifesto.
This isn’t a story about #AgileFakers though, on the contrary. This is about those who “made it” mindset-wise. And those who are on their way.
It’s easy to fall in love with the minds of those who truly get #Agile. They may not flaunt it but they invariably have superior intellect and amazing mental flexibility. They need to be able to:
- Show self-control as they feast on micro portions – as speed is all about learning and delivering slices, these need to be savored and celebrated.
- Thrive on change – it goes against our need for safety and security but we can reprogram our brains to embrace it once we comprehend why we need to accept it as the only constant.
- Be truly open-minded – it’s possible none of the initial assumptions hold water – it’s why they shouldn’t even be made.
- Be ready to admit they may have been wrong – how else would they learn? It’s “for now” or “this time” and it’s to their team, not the world stage – so they trust them and lean on them.
- Have faith – in their vision, their purpose and the fact that they have family around.
- Play well with personal responsibility – autonomy and growth depend on a collection of internal moral compasses all pointing to the same North.
- “Get” the end consumer of whatever is being made, intimately – at this speed and with this level of expectation, every success is transient.
- Become immune to the whiners, the nay-sayers and the framework fanatics that want to see their own version of events happen more than they want to see results.
- Be an unapologetic perfectionist and obsess over doing better.
- Be an athlete – a sprinter and a marathon runner in one – have disgustingly superhuman amounts of resilience and stamina.
- Have huge …. courage.
Nothing in business is more counterintuitive or goes more against the grain of everything we learned and did so far than #Agile -but at the same time, nothing else comes even close to guaranteeing success in the same fashion- so there’s little wonder there’s so much pushback. If you do Agile right these are truths:
When you do a 180 and throw away good work – you won.
When you admit you were silly – you won.
When you deliver slower than you liked but you know it – you won.
When you change or pivot – you won.
When you fail – you won.
When you’re back at square one – you won.
Unsurprisingly, getting to grips with these is extremely hard for all of us.
The only advice l have for those who recognise themselves in the lists above is “hang in there and try not to lose heart while the rest of the world works it out and joins in.”
For everyone else: “Wake up!” If l could shake every executive of every enterprise into getting it l would. And for their own good too. There isn’t any industry, any business and any individual who could happily carry on in the arrogant belief that they can carry on with their sequential doing and their sequential thinking when the world is running past them.
If you’re reading this, you’re one of the ones above and you’re friends, family or beer buddies with a CxO who doesn’t but may do, here’s a karma shortcut: save them from becoming an #AgileFaker look them in the eye and level:
“Don’t hope for any predetermined formula – forge your own!”
“Don’t copy&paste anyone else’s version – you’re not them.”
“Don’t hope it will pass and we’ll all go back to a PRINCE world.”
“Don’t think you can delegate it. Be the superhero – you have the cape!”