The previous article was devoted to continuous integration, continuous delivery, deployment processes and competences related to these processes.
In this article I would like to focus on a few elements that in a mature organization may impede the implementation of agile methodology. We will consider why carrying out the transformation process in large organizations is difficult and demanding and in the case of an organization that assumes transformation into a new model (Agile), it becomes even more complicated.
The transformation involves taking into account the current state of the organization and its potential associated with adapting to new conditions.
Elements that need to be considered in the transformation and which have a significant impact on the effectiveness of change are:
- the organization's ability to learn,
- organization strategy,
- structure of the organization,
- culture of the organization.
This article focuses on the last two aspects. Let's skip into details.
Your current position will be something worth fighting for against the change
I observed changes to the Agile model in large organizations. Large corporations have been implementing IT projects for years based on the PMI model.
The basic question is whether such a design methodology (in line with PMI) was chosen for the organization by accident or was it a reasonable decision? In my opinion, the choice of methodology resulted from the consistency of the methodology with the organizational structure.
The hierarchical organizational structure based on departmental departments and the organization's culture promoting individual jobs forced the use of this project methodology to implement IT projects.
Design phases consisting of analysis, development, testing, implementation and maintenance overlap with the organizational structure. The organization consists of business departments responsible for functional requirements, an IT department responsible for technical and maintenance aspects. Sometimes, design departments are created in organizations with project managers, analysts and architects. Sometimes these departments bear different names and have a slightly different scope of responsibility, but usually the organizational dimension coincides with the phases and specificity of the project methodology (PMI).
In the Agile model, the set of works to be performed is analogous, however, the organizational structure and the production process are changing. Team members must have the same competencies as in the traditional model, but due to the change in the design structure, their place in the ecosystem changes. The introduction of a different design methodology affects the structure and culture of the organization. It forces change in it, because the old structure is not justified in new realities. First of all, there is a change in view of the workplace. In Agile, not only individuals count, but a team. The team as a "black box" is responsible for the success or failure of the task.
Changing the model, in which the role of the individual is not emphasized, but the value of the team, may bother those who have worked for years in their current organization.
It should be remembered that position in the company, ethos, respect that employees possess does not come for free. It is often the result of many years of hard work. Employees develop their competences, whether expert or managerial, through learning and experience. They learn from their individual successes and failures to use the acquired knowledge and experience during subsequent tasks. Thanks to the acquired luggage of various experiences, they become more effective and efficient. They are appreciated and rewarded by the organization. They receive benefits, whether material or related to prestige, position or recognition.
Rebuilding such a structure means that the group positions developed over the years cease to be relevant, and this will certainly be resisted.
The message is: "You no longer work on your account, you work on a joint account." For managers, the efficiency of the team as a whole counts. Does it increase motivation?
Employees with long experience, in order to support rather than block change, must somehow transfer this prestige to a new dimension - this is the task of those who carry out the change process.
I work in an environment that suits me
Another important element is the fact that in a large hierarchical organization work, most likely, people who correspond to this structure. If it were not so, they would be looking for a smaller organization with a less formal structure. This structure allows either an expert or managerial career. The division of work and the scope of duties is quite precisely defined. Settlement and remuneration also. This structure gives stability, but also allows you to plan your career path with precision.
Depending on intelligence, knowledge, determination, level of stress resistance, problem-solving skills and many other features, employees "form" in such a structure. Whoever puts more effort is better rewarded and has a better position (at least theoretically 😊).
Everyone measures their level of capacity for stress with the level of responsibility in the organization, which involves a place in the hierarchy.
In the Agile structure there is no division of responsibility among the members of the project team, there is simply a team that as a whole is responsible. It seems like a better solution, but do employees really want such a change?
In a mature organization where employees work for many years, they had the opportunity to develop their ethos. Attitudes are similar to the one below:
I prefer to stand out. Be valued for my individual characteristics and skills and experience and be individually responsible for my work. I do not want to be part of a team, I want to be an individualist who shares his competences and work for which he is individually accounted for. I want to build my individual prestige, work in my name, not in a team. I know exactly what the rules are and I adapt to them to achieve benefits. It suits me because the direction and conditions are clear.
Such an attitude and thinking seems natural.
In order for the transformation to be successful, it must first be verified whether employees will feel good in such a collective work model and how many people who think in the above way will block the process.
Top Agile is hypocrisy
Agile says: "individuals and interactions over processes and tools". Is this statement really true in the process of transformation?
On the one hand, Agile argues that people are more important than processes, on the other, as reality shows, organizational changes associated with the transition to Agile methodology are carried out from above, without asking people for their opinions. These are contradictory actions in themselves.
If an organization needs improvement and does not achieve its goals, a management board that believes in people should set a goal for them and not impose a solution. It may, of course, suggest the introduction of a different organizational model, but people should decide whether they want to enter this model and implement it.
In this article I would like to draw attention to the human, soft aspects of implementing a new design methodology in an organization. It should be remembered that it strongly interferes with the structure and culture of the organization, sometimes turning it upside down.
Personally, I value and believe in teamwork. I believe that today's projects require well-organized and selected teams. I also know that in an IT environment, teamwork is difficult and unnatural, due to the specific characteristics of IT professionals, often individuals with a "hard interface".
I believe that such transformations require an internal dialogue between the management of the company and employees who are to undergo such transformation in order to work out a realistic change plan together. Success depends on good leaders who strongly and genuinely believe in the potential of people with whom they change and are able to reward them for the comfort they give them.
Stay tuned for next article.