I recently saw a comment on LinkedIn that critiqued the Agile Transformation team of being the barrier to the Agile Transformation itself. Of course, my thoughts about my own Agile Transformation team started reeling. What does a good Agile Transformation Team look like? Several answers came to mind.
An Agile Transformation team should have these following characteristics:
Solid Leadership - This team is leading the way for transforming the mindset of an organization on how work is done. Each of the Agile Transformation team members should be change agents who understand the organizational barriers and culture working against agile teams. Additionally, there must also be Leadership Engagement. The executive support of the Agile Transformation team is equally key to a successful venture. We all know that projects fail without the right sponsorship. An Agile Transformation project is no different.
Subject Matter Expertise - The SME aspects extend to several areas - there should be expertise in the Agile methodologies, be it Scrum or Kaizen, expertise in the tools, expertise in Change Management, expertise in how the organization currently operates. Not all of this expertise should be expected from one person. The team collectively provides these capabilities so the team can rely on various points of view. Additionally, depending on an organization, there may be some other areas of expertise required as part of this team, be it a reporting or data expert or an industry expert.
Willingness to coach and to be coached - The team's focus is guiding the organization to adopt a new practice, a new methodology, and a new way of communicating. Many people, in an organization adopting agile, require coaching. Doing agile is hard. It requires lots of practice, patience, determination, and dedication. The organization has to ensure that there will be enough coaching for everyone involved, so applying the right number of resources is critical. Like many sports analogies that are applied to Agile, Agile teams require Agile Coaching. But what about the Transformation team? They may also require coaching and input from outside sources in order to "adapt and improve" or to gain new perspective on their own struggles and challenges. The team should be willing to be coached, as well as coaching others.
Passion - How many agilists do you know who resonate with passion about what they do and how they do it? How many people do you know who are passionate about the company they work for? How many people do you know who are passionate about change? Yoyo Ma said "Passion is one great force that unleashes creativity, because if you're passionate about something, then you're more willing to take risks." I keep in mind what it means to take a risk; that I'm willing to try something new, and if works, that's one step toward success. If there's failure, I've learned something in the process. The Agile Transformation team will also have to succeed and fail like every other team. Their own passions can be the reason they need their own team coach, to help them address the concerns and objections of those just getting on board with an Agile approach.