Valuing Adaptability OVER Following a Plan

This month, we move to the finale of our 4-part agile value miniseries. How can transformational middle managers help their team Respond to Change OVER following a plan?

Planning has a place in every organization, but plans shouldn't prevent progress, and as the saying goes, "the only thing that is constant is change." For organizations to succeed, managers need to enable adaptability through:

  • Self Reflection. How do you handle change to either scope of work or timelines? Is your initial gut reaction NO or do you start to figure out the “cost” of the change to the project? If so, you might not be serving yourself, your team or your organization well. Middle managers should model the behavior they want to see. Help your team by showing them your flexibility and how it builds partnerships and benefits the overall organization.  
      
  • Focusing on Value. Many organizations try to prevent changes by making it very difficult, if not impossible, to implement changes. This resistance drives many business partners to include everything in their initial requirements to avoid the pain of adding changes later. While this seems like a good idea at the time, allowing change is imperative for companies to ensure they stay focused on what is going to bring the highest value in order to compete in a fast paced, evolving marketplace. By staying focused on business value, teams might actually deliver the product or project sooner with higher value features than originally planned.  
      
  • Rewarding Responsiveness. Make sure performance evaluations/bonuses are not tied to inflexible behavior. Reward thinking and reward change that increases value. Don't reward those who stay "on schedule" at the expense of strategic opportunities. Again, we aren’t saying that we don’t have a plan or follow a plan with agile transformations.  We need to be able to be able to adapt and easily change the plan to respond and react to meet our business needs.  
     
    This concludes our journey through the Agile Manifesto. Middle managers play a critical role in agile transformations by applying agile values. Just remember--while there is value in the items on the right, we value the items on the left more.
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