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SPaMCAST 471 features our essay on the top 20 transformation killers.  Each transformation killer is a big deal, but if you combine two or more you are in big trouble. That said, forewarned is forearmed . . .hopefully?

In the second spot, this week is Jeremy Berriault and the QA Corner!  Jeremy and I discussed involving testers in requirements.  The ultimate in shifting “left.”    

In the third spot, Gene Hughson completes the cast by bringing a discussion of a recent missive, Systems Thinking Complicates Things.  Rock, paper, scissors, lizard, Spock and more!

Re-Read Saturday News (more…)

Sometimes you just need to walk!

Change is hard, change is easy, change is scary, change is expensive; change is many things to many people.  Change is many things because people and organizations are complex.  In order to help an organization, transform change leaders have to put down their magic wands and get their hands dirty facilitating lots of moving parts.  Lots of moving parts provide the potential for lots of different train wrecks.  As train wrecks go some are worse than others but avoiding any of them is a worthwhile effort.

Round Three: Transformation Killers 10 – 5:

10. Poor Change Management

Transformations generally require coordination of many teams, lots of money, and careful messaging to many stakeholder communities.  Managing the change is often as important as implementing the technical components of change.  A change management plan (whether a formal plan or backlog items matters less than having a plan) is necessary to communicate, sell and generate useful feedback or the change will be at risk of failing, not because there are technical faults but because the change has not been sold to all of the stakeholders.

9. All Flash and No Substance

Transformations need to address the fundamental issues an organization has delivering value; otherwise, simple incremental process improvement is a better solution.  Addressing fundamental issues requires a real change that includes both organizational structure and behavior.  Just rebranding or relaunching an old way of working with a new name (or new and improved sticker) rarely delivers substantial change.  For example, several years ago I observed an organization during what was making a big deal out of “transforming” to “agile.” To accomplish this transformation, they added daily meetings and a demonstration to the end of each phase in their phased methodology. Lots of flash in the rollout but no substantial change was made.  Putting lipstick on a pig results in a pig with a messy snout.

8. Starting Too Late

I have heard it said that a good near-death experience is a great motivator for change. The problem is waiting for a near-death experience can be … fatal to an organization (or any other group).  As noted in Transformation Killer 18, organizations need a compelling reason to provide the motivation for change, but they should not wait until panic is the driving force or they risk having clouded judgment.  Early in my career, I worked for a firm whose products slowly lost favor with our intended demographic.  Little was done to address the core issue until cash flow began to tighten which constrained the options we had and lead to a poorly thought-out bet-the-farm change.  The firm no longer exists.

  7. Transformation Not Tied to the Organization’s Goals

Transforming a team, product or organization is a tall order. The reason anyone will agree to spend the blood, sweat, and tears required to change how work is accomplished needs to be tied directly to the organization/s goals.  Tying change to the organization goals helps to ensure that support, funding, and people are available when roadblocks are encountered (and they always are).  Perhaps more importantly, linking change to the organization’s goal steers decision making and focuses organizational politics in a manner that will favor the transformation.

6. Poor Leadership

Poor leadership drains energy from the transformation and will tend to metastasize and foster a myriad of transformation killers.  Poor leadership can have many negative impacts.  Impacts range from crushing morale and motivation to generating poor decision making.

The goal of exposing these risks is to facilitate a conversation amongst change agents (we are all change agents) about risk and change management.

Catch-up on transformation killers:

Round One: Transformation Killers 20 -16

Round Two: Transformation Killers 15 – 11

Next Transformation Killers 5– 1

Transformation Killers Can Create Destruction.

Change that isn’t perceived as wildly positive is not exactly the easiest thing to convince people to participate in.  The problem isn’t that people and organizations can’t change, but rather that change efforts are more often than not screwed up.  We continue the top 20 transformation killers in order of worst to first.  Recognize that even the least of the transformation killers can stop change in its tracks.

Round Two: Transformation Killers 15 -11: (more…)

There are four leadership concepts that can double the chances that your agile transformation will be effective. These four concepts are not new, but they require a degree of passion and constancy of purpose that are often missing.  The constancy of purpose was the first point in W. Edward Deming’s 14 points for management (Out of The Crisis – 1982 MIT Press) that has rewritten management and leadership philosophy across the globe. Deming’s philosophies form the bedrock for the Agile and lean revolution in which we are currently engulfed, so we ignore Deming at our own peril.  Agile delivers great benefits, but those benefits require leadership and vision to provide motivation and constancy of purpose. The first two of the four cornerstones that define agile leadership that delivers are: (more…)

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SPaMCAST 459 features our essay on resistance.  Organizational change is a common, almost ubiquitous, feature in today’s business world. Change is known under many monikers ranging from transformation to creative destruction.  The variety of names is a portent to the one constant in any organizational change: resistance.  Some resistance is inevitable, even if everyone is involved in the plan.Organizational change will always foment some degree of resistance that unless recognized can fester and lead to failure. This essay will help you find and mitigate the risk of resistance!

The second column this week is from Gene Hughson and his Form Follows Function column. Gene discusses his essay titled Innovation, Intention, Planning, and Execution. One of the gems Gene delivers in our discussion is that effectiveness requires reasoned, intentional action. While we might all agree, why is it so hard to remember that when push comes to shove in a project?

Jeremy Berriault brings his QA Corner to the cast in order to discuss testing packages.  Jeremy weighs in on whether testing a package is any different than testing any other piece of code.

A promo for 2017 Agile Leadership Summit:

Mark your calendar for an entirely new class of business conference. More “business theater” than conference, the 2017 Agile Leadership Summit (September 22nd in Washington, DC) is sponsored by AgileCxO (agilecxo.org). It features an integrated mix of six vignettes on Agile leadership, two fantastic industry keynotes, and onstage jazz musicians who are demonstrating agility, iteration, and excellence throughout. Learn more at http://agilecxo.org.

For other events, SPaMCAST team members will be attending check the recent blog entry titled Upcoming Conferences and Webinars!

Re-Read Saturday News

This week Steven dives into Chapter 8 of Paul Gibbons’ book The Science of Successful Organizational Change.  Change is a central activity of every organization.  Three more weeks are left Steven intends to spend two weeks on Chapter 9 and then we will have a grand finale.  Remember to use the link in the essay to buy a copy of the book to support the author, the podcast, and the blog! (more…)

You Better Ask Questions!

The role of a coach often centers on diagnosing problems and helping people come to an understanding of how their behavior or feelings are affecting their team and organization. Rarely is an issue so obvious that simply observing behavior and then sharing observations generate organizational or self-awareness. Questions are an important tool in any coach’s data gathering arsenal. Some questions are useful to expose management or leadership behaviors while others are targeted to generate knowledge at the individual and group level.  A sample of questions useful when working with individuals or groups (outside the earshot of their managers).

  1. Is it harder to get out of bed to come to work than it used to be?

This is a fairly blunt question that can be used once you have established a rapport with a team or group.  It establishes an admission that something has changed and that the respondent is less motivated. (more…)

Sign - Door Blocked!

A locked door is a sign of resistance.

Over the years I have collected a set of questions that are useful to determine whether resistance is festering below the surfaces or is raging out of control (whether obvious or not).  They are a mixture of closed-ended questions, open-ended questions and questions that elicit stories.   A sample of questions that I ask managers and leaders include:

Questions to Leaders or Managers (more…)