I’ve spent the last 8 years in an organization that transformed itself to agile. This transformation began slowly, initiated by a team that approached me (I was our Director of Development at the time) about trying agile. I said, “Yes,” and our journey began!
Long story short, we moved our entire organization here in the Portland, Maine office to Scrum. We didn’t stop by making agile “something for the development teams.” As a management team, we embraced agile and transitioned our management approach to a servant leadership model. We read, experimented, sent people to conferences, brought in trainers/coaches, and we learned from both our successes and failures. (We did managed to screw up very now and then!)
It was hard work that involved personal and professional change, but the results were worth it. We transitioned from having customers complain about the quality of our product to raving about how reliable it was and how they were happy to run their business with our software. In one of those great moments, I was in the room when customers pressed our corporate parent to invest more in us because of the quality of our product and the trust that we had built up with them. (Thank you, net promoters and advocates!)
We also developed a new product using agile development, generating revenue and – for several months in a row – this product was listed as the top sale in company meetings. To top it off, we accomplished this while achieving the highest employee satisfaction ratings in the company.
The agile experience has been a personal journey filled with growth for me as well. For example, I had someone who reported to me tell me that he was very critical of my management skills early on, but as I worked on servant leadership and embracing agile practices, he viewed my change as a manager as very positive.
But there are times when circumstances dictate change.
I've been considering making a move for a while now, and now is as good a time as any to make a shift. I have an agreement to remain with my current company until the end of April, but after that, I'm going independent. I’m forming my own company focused on agile coaching and training. I want to help other organizations have a positive, successful experience transforming to agile. More about my plans in next week’s post.