In my book “Leaders, it’s not how you finish … it’s how you start” I said that the Pre-Tx model could be tailored to be used in existing Agile transformations. This series of blog posts describes how this can be achieved.
I wouldn’t start from here!
You have probably heard to old joke where a traveller on a road to some distant destination stops a local person and asks them for directions. The response is as above “I wouldn’t start from here!” That is quite often how I have felt when I have been asked to come into an organisation to get their transformation or change initiative back on track. Of course, that answer is as much help to the senior manager charged with making transformative changes as it would be to our mythical traveller.
Of course, there is an assumption here that the transformation isn’t going as the leaders have been expecting, otherwise why seek to get it back on track? Well it may be that the transformation may have been put on hold for whatever reason. Usually those reasons are either budgetary or because a new leader has joined the organisation and they want to take stock of the change initiatives that are in flight. Regardless of the reasons why the transformation is undergoing a reboot it is always worth revisiting the founding or initial assumptions for the transformation. In these explorative conversations between the Trusted Agile Advisor (TAA) and the leadership team much value is gained as a new direction and a new set of expectations is forged.
Always start at Step 1!
You must be thinking – wow – this guy doesn’t hold back from giving me the best advice!!!! Of course, you would be saying that sarcastically or with a large amount of tongue in cheek. But seriously, since my 5 step model starts from step one, let’s take it from there and discuss how we adapt this first step to assist with a reboot of your transformation.
The diagram here shows the suggested topics for dialogue if we were starting from scratch – or blue sky or brown field. It is worthwhile as a TAA understanding the original premise under which the previous transformation had been initiated, but I personally wouldn’t spend too much time on that just now, instead I would be inclined to ask the question “what’s different now?” In my experience, not all transformations start from this place and may have been initiated without much thought given to any of these topics. However just because these topics weren’t discussed among the leaders last time doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t discuss them now before rebooting the transformation.
Step 1 of Buchan’s Pre-Tx Model
So clearly by looking at this summary of the 8 Dialogue topics, it would be fair to assume that the first of these topics should have already been discussed; albeit a long time in the distant past. However, this dialogue topic was initially provided in the Agile Leadership 101 as a means to sell the current organisations leaders on why they should be doing (or going or being) agile. One has to ask the question again and it ties into dialogue number 4 above: why should we go agile? To this end the whole of step 1 is really about reminding the leaders WHY they are on this journey.
Having travelled some way down the path towards agility leaders may have forgotten their reason why they wanted organisational agility in the first place. Or maybe they weren’t very clear on why; or maybe the leadership team changed during the transformation; or maybe they had a set of unrealistic expectations about what agile would give them based on some popular myths or misconceptions. Whatever the reason it is the responsibility of the Trusted Agile Advisor (TAA) to flush out the reasons why. The reasons why will help inform the TAA of how the transformation can be designed to deliver the most appropriate form of Agile to the organisation.
All told this dialogue with the leadership team starts to set the scene for how they want the transformation to be restarted in the coming weeks. Building on this dialogue starts to then help the leadership team to adapt the remaining steps of the Pre-Tx model so that the roboot delivers more value.
In the next instalment of this blog post I will discuss how I tend to steer the dialogue to provide the leadership team with further insight to help deliver genuine transformation rather than, what I refer to in the book as, pseudo-transformation.