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Why is adjusting toward more agile ways of working so tough - pt 1
What are we REALLY doing
In one of my previous posts, I talked about where do managers go when they hit the Manager Agile Limbo. The fact that this problem persists and creates confusion for the organization needs to be addressed, because everyone should have an understanding of how they fit in and contribute to the value that the organization is creating. Of course we don't just want someone hanging around for no reason, but more importantly, think about what that experience would be like for the person.
This is indicative of a greater issue around creating new ways of working, people’s experiences with their ways of working, and how hard changing this can really be. To start though, we need to acknowledge what we are really doing when we talk about or change ways of working.
We are changing the operations of the team/group/org
We have to acknowledge that we are changing the way that work gets done. The analogy that might make sense here is if you were in a factory and that factory was changing the way that materials flowed into and through their assembly/production lines, and then how that stuff gets shipped out. So, when anyone is talking about Lean, Agile, or various other frameworks around ways of working, they are talking about operations and operational management.
I think this fundamental concept gets glossed over or lost in the conversation. A lot of the discussion around these ways of working ultimately ends up getting focused on the tools and techniques. They're easy to latch onto because they are familiar for people in a few ways. Tools and techniques are a part of people's experience, they are used to thinking about tools and techniques in a concrete, lived experience, kind of way.
This impacts the quality of the conversation, action, and the outcomes. In turn, this contributes to why teams find it so hard to embrace some of these changes to their ways of working. Ultimately, this also contributes to teams implementing a lot of the tools and techniques without truly understanding why they are changing their operating model and why it's important. Without that understanding, it's almost impossible to make intentional change in meaningful ways.
I think there's a couple contributing factors to this that interplay with each other:
⦁ Not thinking about organizational change as "work"
⦁ Taking the time to understand what's important today and tomorrow
⦁ It's not a part of their lived experience - never done this type of work before
⦁ Not used to working iteratively as a part of operations or even product/service delivery
I'm going to take some time to explore these other concepts in more detail in some future posts, but I wanted to list them here to spur thinking and exploration. I'll be diving a little deeper into each of these to help get oriented around the problem and then figure out some tactics we can use to help make organizational change management easier around changing our ways of working.
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