Today a lot of companies want agile. They know their competitors are using it for competitive advantage, and they want to keep up and excel. So they often go out and hire agile coaches. The challenge here is that while many agile coaches possess strong agile experience, they sometimes don’t have the specific skill set to bring about organizational behavior change. This is what the field of organizational psychology calls OD – organizational development. I believe that effective agile coaching needs both, to the degree it’s actual transformational work, that becomes sustainable and baked into a company’s DNA.
I believe you need the right tool for the right job. There’s some kind of saying about a hammer and a nail, I guess that if you have a hammer everything looks like a nail. If you are an agile content coach without OD skills, then everything looks like you can address it by simply teaching or explaining. I used to believe that, when I led my first major organizational transformation effort in 2003. I explained myself blue in the face, then got confused about why the change effort failed, even though everyone said they wanted it.
Behavior change, especially behavior change of an organizational system, does not happen as a result of explaining something. I can explain all I want that the gym is over there, and that they have good classes, but that won’t get you going there regularly for the next 10 years.
The purpose of this blog is to empower agile coaches and the companies they serve to enable sustainable transformation. This goes far beyond learning how to do agile, even the very best of agile, such as things like learning loops, empirical process control, self organizing teams, servant leader models, and community-based change. It’s much more.
What’s that more? It’s a way of both being and doing that effectively facilitates transformational shifts.
How this blog seeks to make transformation accessible is by sharing stories of success, failure, the related learnings, and the approaches that facilitate change. These stories offer not only a body of knowledge and a collection of techniques, but more importantly, ways of being – with organizational systems wanting change, and with oneself as servant-leader. These stories bring both the “Do” and the “Be” as an integrated approach to transformation, which companies and coaches wanting change can use in real life business situations.
Inviting transformation through this combination of “Do” and “Be” holds at its center a real presencing of the organizational system’s agenda. And helps to unfold the best possible future around that agenda and beyond. This type of approach is far more than techniques or skills. Instead, it’s about becoming present, noticing what’s trying to happen in organizational systems, and inviting that to unfold.
This is a movement that for me is guided by several important metaskills, such as respect and kindness. A metaskill is a stance the change agent takes, that impacts the emotional field of the system a coach is working with. It’s like a perfume you spray into a room or a spell you cast. Respect and kindness as metaskills serve as beacons guiding an awareness that change and growth that is wanting to happen in every organizational system and team. And so this set of writings I aim to help organizational systems dream big, to reach for what’s possible, and to make those dreams reality.