The March AgileSoCal User Group‘s presentation will be on Zodiac Inflight Innovations’ agile transformation with LeSS. Adoption pitfalls, great insights & lessons learned from their Product Owner Mike Winston. This is a preview of their talk at Scrum Alliance‘s national Scrum Gathering in Minneapolis. Product Managers might want to check it out!
Zodiac’s agile journey began before I was involved. Like many other companies, they had tried agile before and met with challenges inside and outside the software group – such as changing priorities, meetings running over, overtime, changes to management and process, lack of shared understanding of what agile is and why everyone should support it. And more…
When I was asked to provide an assessment and a day of training, I asked to meet with all of the leadership. I gave them a basic overview, but challenged them with what had been my experience – “This will very difficult. It affects most every area of the organization. We will need you to be involved and help lead the change.” Part of my grave concern was that I had recently experienced an agile transformation (using SAFe), and was frustrated by the absence of involvement or support from key individuals, especially with vital issues that were effectively stifling progress.
One observation that I made using SAFe: More roles lead to less responsible teams, and more installed processes lead to less ownership of the teams. Many ended up just mapping their current job to a role in SAFe and stopped there. Yes, SAFe has the Inspect & Adapt workshop, but if the mindset of the leaders, including the Release Train Engineer, isn’t there, it easily fails. If there are fewer defined roles, process and artifacts (like in LeSS), then team members HAVE to figure it out (and are engaged). The upside is that Large Scale Scrum is FULL of great thinking tools.
Another key lesson was the need to equip leadership to help lead the change. This is both executives and management. Mike Winston, the Product Owner, recently mentioned that for some leaders, some terms still carry different meanings, and they’re important words such as: agile, Scrum, PBI, feature, “Done,” and more. Also, the training gives the leaders tools to use, such as what an agile transformation looks like, case studies, how to change from a micro-manager to catalytic and empowering manager, how to take responsibility and model that for others, and thinking tools such as systems thinking and lean.
Make every effort to train everyone, but leadership is often overlooked or they are “too busy.” Plan on attending the Certified Agile Leadership and Certified LeSS Practitioner workshops, as well as the core Scrum Master and Product Owner (and Scrum Developer and Kanban) classes. It would be a plus if the trainers with LeSS Friendly (yes, that’s really the name :-).
And, of course, if you’d ever like an overview or chalk talk, we’d happy to stop by.