Applying Organizational Change and Leadership in Agile Transformations


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It is no secret that when an organization chooses to transition to Agile methodologies, it requires an enormous commitment to leadership and change management. Even in prescriptive methods of Agile transitions, such as SAFe, I have found this subject matter deficient, especially in the area of practical application. This presentation is based on a training class I developed and conducted with executive leadership at American Airlines. It focuses on how to apply Dr. John Kotter’s 8-step model of change management and leadership to help transition an organization to support an Agile transformation. I have been involved in large scale Agile Transformations at Nokia, AT&T, American Airlines, Telogical Systems and VCE. I have successfully applied the principles of this process at several companies, most recently at American Airlines IT division to train executives in Agile Change Management.

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  • Hopefully make this presentation fun and interactive
  • I’m thinking of Socrates’ other quote, which said “I drank what?”
  • Three surprises about Change
    What looks like a people problem is often a situational problem
    What looks like laziness is often exhaustion
    What looks like resistance is often lack of clarity
    Who knew that Green Egg’s and Ham was an OCM treatise, I’ve often thought of it as existential work of art
  • Other’s had tried this in the past.
  • Notice the language. Create a sense of Urgency, not INVENT a sense of urgency. There is a subtle but important difference. It implies that you are making the sense of urgency visible.
    Since you can’t invent urgency, what if there is no urgency? Then you don’t have an reason for change!
  • 19
  • Part of the vision. Figure out what we want to concentrate on.
    Time and Commitment is the hardest – take what you can get
  • We dived everything up into 4 areas:
    Purpose: We wanted a single place for all artifacts
    Example stories, not in template format. Jot down ideas
    Metrics: How do we measure progress? Working software doesn’t really fit the bill here.
  • Number the iterations based on the total project (not within the release), so X=first iteration number for this release. Space is available in this template for six iterations; create additional pages to accommodate the actual length of the release.

    Velocity : should show both planned and actual amounts of work delivered.
    Scope: Will show the stories scheduled to be delivered within the iteration. When updating based on actual results, indicate any user stories that were not completed by formatting the story name in italics. These stories should then appear again in the iteration where they will be complete.
  • Post Scrum board, burn up/burn down, defects outside the cube or in a “war” room
  • This is a tough one. Especially for a centralized power base, like strong PMO.
    Try to help those to help themselves.
    SAFe does provide some guidance here in what decisions should be centralized and which ones should be decentralized.
  • Celebrate successful sprints! Got everything done? Buy them lunch

  • Try different retrospectives to get the information that you are looking for
  • Our only measure of success is working software. What if you are not delivering working software?
    SAFe has measurements for M1-M8
    Educationally opportunity – Instead of let’s beat them over the head, ask the question, how can we help?
    Stress the purpose of the KPIs is to provide insight to management ---this is a tool to help them see when they may want to offer support to a team
  • Explain the goal then how the metric is determined. Then give the targets and how the color if determined. Note ---no yellow
    Be ready for discussion.

    Maximum 2 weeks for a Release of 3 months or less
    Maximum 4 weeks for a Release of 6 months or less
    Maximum 6 weeks for a Release of 9 months or less
  • Give the KPI goal and explain how it is determined. Explain the target and the colors. Note ---Red, yellow and green on this one.

    This KPI projects what % of the release will be completed by the end of the project based on performance to date.

    --------- = 100 % projected to complete

    --------- = 71% projected to complete

    --------- = 120% projected to complete
  • Give the KPI goal and explain how it is determined. Explain the target and the colors. Note ---Red, yellow and green on this one.
  • Give the KPI goal and explain how it is determined. Explain the target and the colors. Note ---No yellow.
  • Give the KPI goal and explain how it is determined. Explain the target and the colors. Note ---Red, yellow and green on this one.
  • Modified in that your standups are weekly (instead of daily), sprints are monthly, etc.
    Find a good communicator, preferably someone well connected on the executive side and sell it!
  • Applying Organizational Change and Leadership in Agile Transformations

    1. 1. Applying Organizational Change and Leadership to Agile Transformations Joe Vallone Twitter:@joejv
    2. 2. Who is cPrime? AGILE SOFTWARE SERVICES
    3. 3. After the webinar… • We will send directions to collect the PDU you will earn from attending this webinar • We will also send a links to the recorded webinar and presentation slides once they are posted online For more information, visit
    4. 4. Poll • What is your Agile Experience? – Beginner: I understand the concepts – Intermediate: I’ve done some work on Agile teams – Advanced: I’ve led large scale Agile transformations
    5. 5. Objectives You leave here today with:  An understanding of Dr. John Kotter’s 8 step leadership model for change.  An understanding how to apply the 8-step model when changing an organization to Agile.  Learn how to measure change progress in this model.  Learn how to overcome barriers to change management in this model.  Lesson’s learned when applying the model at AA.
    6. 6. My Background • Over 20 years of Software Development and project management experience. Agile experience since 2002 • Undergraduate Engineering, USF • Graduate MBA, Cox School of Business, SMU • Certified SCRUM Professional (CSP, CSM) • Experience leading Agile Transformations at Nokia, AT&T, American Airlines • Previous Agile/Scrum opponent now proponent • Certified SAFe Program Consultant (SPC) • Have implemented both SAFe and CIF
    7. 7. Leading Teams Through Change Overview of Dr. John Kotter’s 8-Step Model
    8. 8. Many Perspectives for Looking at Change
    9. 9. Focus Today on How to Apply One, and how we applied it at American Airlines
    10. 10. Kotter’s Model of Change
    11. 11. The Story begins… • Our Hero Fred, a curious Emperor Penguin noticed they had a problem – their iceberg was melting and could collapse leaving the colony homeless and endangered. • Fred wanted to warn everyone however, when Harold tried to warn people of the same thing they would not listen and ostracized him. • So Fred approached Alice, an influential member of the Leadership Council. She had him show her the problem. • He explained the details in a way that Alice understood. Alice wanted to think about the best way to tell the colony. She also warned Fred to be prepared for resistance.
    12. 12. Then… • Alice tried unsuccessfully to get the Leadership Council to make the trip with Fred to see the danger first hand. She did, however, get Louis, the head of the council, to invite him to speak the next Council Meeting. • Fred’s model of the iceberg got the attention of the Leadership Council . However one council member, NoNo, rallied some of the members accusing Fred of trying to cause a panic. • Alice came to Fred ‘s defense asking,” how would they feel if Fred was right but they did nothing? How would they explain to the others when they were homeless and lost loved ones?”
    13. 13. So… • Louis suggested forming a committee to analyze the situation and develop a plan while keeping the problem from the colony. • Alice urged it was far to serious and should be discussed quickly at an assembly of the full colony. The Council wanted more evidence to take to the colony so Fred proposed an experiment to prove the iceberg was in danger. • A glass bottle of water was left to freeze overnight. When the bottle shattered from the expanding ice, they would have proof that the iceberg is in danger. • The Assembly was held to let the penguins know what was about to happen. Everyone had a chance to see Fred’s model and the evidence of bottle. You could feel a difference; the start of the change process had begun…
    14. 14. Step 1: Create a Sense of Urgency • The assembly reduced the level of complacency and created a sense of urgency. Every penguin knew swift action was required. • In our world we can do this by  Helping people understand why the change is important  Identifying what is in it for them as well as the organization • As leaders, how would you create a sense of urgency for your Agile transformation, but not panic?  Our customers were demanding more  Our competition was tough  The business didn’t trust us to deliver  We needed to deliver quicker  Change was needed to keep pace
    15. 15. Next… • NoNo told Louis it was his duty to solve the problem as the Leader of the colony. Louis knew he could not do it alone. • Other penguins thought he should delegate to experts but they lacked credibility with the colony. • Louis thought and was ready for the next step…
    16. 16. Step 2: Pull Together the Guiding Team • Louis assembled a diverse team • Louis – experienced leader, wise, patient, well respected • Alice – practical, aggressive, smart, not easily intimidated • Fred - level-headed, curious and creative • Buddy - trusted and well liked • Jordan - the Professor, logical and intelligent • Louis then dedicated some time for them to form as a team • For AA’s organization Agile Leadership team • Identify early adopters in all roles • Make sure the team is diverse with leadership skills, credibility, communication skills, authority, analytical skills and a sense of urgency • Include your business partners!
    17. 17. Example - What’s our current focus? • To bring structure to achieve continuous improvement in three focus areas Efficiency ProcessPortfolio
    18. 18. Example - How do we get started? Create a guiding Scrum Team! Identify Initial Team Members • Recommend 3 to 5 people, including business and PMO representation • Run this as an Agile team on a modified schedule (see next slide) • Main goal – remove impediments to the Agile transformation Conduct initial kickoff session • Introduce the concept • Define the vision • Brainstorm backlog ideas • Define working agreements (e.g., iteration and standup cadence, time commitment, conditions for involvement) • Determine if additional team members are needed at this time (and, if so, identify and recruit candidates) • Identify a Product Owner • Identify a Scrum Master • Determine how to make the team’s activities and progress visible to the organization Conduct second kickoff session • Introduce new team members (if applicable) • Define a roadmap with quarterly release cycles • Create initial backlog • Define a release plan (even this can be a challenge when starting from zero, but the CIF overviews can help to prompt thinking on this) • Schedule the first iteration planning session
    19. 19. Sample Leadership Team Meeting Calendar (Worst Case)
    20. 20. Strategy - How do we succeed? Diversity in roles and levels represented within the team Time & Commitment Involvement of Agile Coach & Mentor
    21. 21. Example Backlog – Portfolio Purpose: Organize roadmaps, releases, and iterations of work to optimize return on investment; they also focus on total coFst of ownership of the product, as well as its long term viability and value. This is accomplished by implementing changes that optimize the organization’s return on investment of product work. Example Stories: - Create visualization of projects in progress - Establish a backlog of prioritized concepts - Establish project work capacity limit - Establish relative business value scale and evaluate projects - Establish project selection criteria and process - Determine maximum project size Potential Strategies for Execution: - Create and enforce a list of criteria to start a project - Utilize Go/No Go after project Iteration Zero - Evaluate current speed-to-market to deliver value more frequently Metrics: - Cycle time - Concepts in the pipeline - Work in Progress ( # of projects) - Return on investment ( Partnering with Finance ) - Usage of functionality delivered - Number of people shared on more than one project
    22. 22. Step 3: Develop a Change Vision • Clarify how the future will be different from the past and how you can make that future reality  Focus on removing impediments for Agile adoption/transformation  Pick a problem area (e.g. Portfolio Management), and make it Lean and Agile • Treat the Agile Transformation as a project o Use the templates and create a Vision and Roadmap o Build a backlog o Plan small releases
    23. 23. Vision Planning Tools Sources: • Product Data Sheet, PDD • Press Release, Business Case, Scope (in/out), Risks • Elevator/Vision Statement FOR <target customer> WHO <statement of need> THE <product> IS A <product category> THAT <key benefit>. UNLIKE <primary competitor> OUR PRODUCT <further differentiation>. From "Crossing the Chasm" by Geoffrey Moore
    24. 24. Example – Vision Template Guides the development process Gives direction in what the product/project is about why we are doing it what we expect from it. FOR AAdvantage Members and Guests WHO are looking for opportunities to redeem their miles on a wider network of cities/airlines THE All Partner Awards Program IS A redemption option within the AAdvantage Program THAT WILL allow them to search, view and book redemption flights on AAdvantage participating carriers in a self service mode on UNLIKE Northwest Airlines and other AA competitors OUR PROGRAM will allow customers to book AAdvantage Partner Awards online.
    25. 25. Example - Road Map Template <product> Release 1 Release 2 Release 3 Release 4 mm/yyyy - mm/yyyy mm/yyyy - mm/yyyy mm/yyyy - mm/yyyy mm/yyyy - mm/yyyy Market / Customers Themes Benefits Architecture Impact Events and/or Cycles What are we planning to deliver and when Market/Customers served by the additions, modifications planned for the product Themes represent a group of features or capabilities to be incorporated into the product List quantifiable business benefits be for each release Expected impact on the IT architecture and infrastructure What events and/or seasonal cycles affect the release or the timing of the release
    26. 26. Example – Release Plan Template Iteration [X] Iteration [X+1] Iteration [X+2] [mm/dd] – [mm/dd] [mm/dd] – [mm/dd] [mm/dd] – [mm/dd] Velocity [planned] points [actual] points [planned] points [actual] points [planned] points [actual] points Scope • [user story title] ([points]) • [user story title] ([points]) • […] • [user story not completed in iteration] • [user story title] ([points]) • [user story title] ([points]) • […] • [user story title] ([points]) • [user story title] ([points]) • […] Risks • [risk name] ([risk category]) • […] • [risk name] ([risk category]) • […] • [risk name] ([risk category]) • […] Architecture Impact Dependencies Events Or Cycles [Dependencies from this project/team to other teams/groups and dependencies from other teams to this project/team] [Expected impact on the IT architecture and infrastructure (including dev & test environments)] [Events and/or seasonal cycles that may affect the iteration or delivery of the iteration]
    27. 27. Step 4: Communicate for Buy-in • Make sure as many others as possible understand and accept the vision and strategy • Communicate, communicate, communicate o Use communication style that works for the receiver o Ask the receiver what works for them • How would you get buy in and share the vision with everyone?  Make results “visible”  Bracelets  Agile Reminder Cards  Continuous Training
    28. 28. Step 5: Empower Others to Act • Remove as many barriers as possible so that those who want to make the vision reality can do so • Ask for possible solutions when presented with roadblocks • Work together to remove roadblocks and impediments  E.g. Coaches teaming with PMO • Holding each other accountable o Ask: What will prevent you from taking 100% responsibility? • Delegate decisions and actions to the teams  Let the teams decide!
    29. 29. Step 6: Produce Short Term Win • Create some visible, unambiguous successes as soon as possible  Advertise! Create a newsletter • Demand transparency  E.g. Open and honest communication during retrospectives • Keep focus on short term goals • Don’t sacrifice the long term vision!
    30. 30. Step 7: Don’t Let Up • Press harder and faster after the first successes. Be relentless with initiating change after change until the vision is reality • Failure does occur and is accepted, as long as you understand why • Keep the forward momentum - don’t allow the “old ways” to continue • Retrospectives – Inspect and Adapt • Welcome Change!
    31. 31. Step 8: Make It Stick – Create a New Culture • Hold on to the new ways of behaving and make sure they succeed, until they become strong enough to replace old traditions • Build trust • Value results • Hold the date sacred
    32. 32. Making It Stick Tracking Project Health via Key Performance Indicators
    33. 33. What are KPIs? • Metrics to help identify opportunities for support  Time to Market • Length of Release • Length of Iteration 0  Productivity • By Release • By Iteration  Planning Predictability  Business Satisfaction
    34. 34. Time to Market – Sprint 0 • Goal: Deliver Business Value Sooner • Determined by comparing planned length of iteration 0 against planned length of the release • Target: • R ≤ 3m I ≤ 2w • R ≤ 6m I ≤ 4w • R ≤ 9m I ≤ 6w NA > target ≤ target Equal to or Less than Max Greater than Max
    35. 35. Productivity - Release • Goal: Continuous Delivery by the team  This KPI projects the % of the release that will be completed by the end of the project based on team performance to date. • Determined by comparing the % of Release points completed thus far to the % of schedule completed thus far. • Target:  Deliver more than 85% of planned release points < 75% or > 125% 75% – 84% or 116% – 125% 85% – 115%
    36. 36. Productivity - Iteration • Goal: Continuous Delivery by the team • Determined by comparing the number of points accepted at the end of the iteration to the number of points committed by the team at iteration planning • Target:  Deliver more than 85% of committed points < 75% or > 125% 75% – 84% or 116% – 125% 85% – 115%
    37. 37. Planning Predictability • Goal: Consistent execution by the team • Determined by comparing the number of unfinished hours at the end of the iteration to the total estimated hours • Target: At iteration end no more than 20% of hours estimated are unfinished >20% NA ≤ 20% 22% Unfinished
    38. 38. Business Satisfaction • Goal: Business Value Achieved  Is the business seeing meaningful progress toward  delivering value? • Determined by a rating delivered to the team by the Product Owner at the end of the iteration • Target:  Score 8 out of a possible 10  NPS < 5 6-7 8-10
    39. 39. Don’t Let Up Introduction to Maturity Assessments - Zanshin, Shu, Ha, Ri Measuring Change
    40. 40. Assessment Process Teams Assess themselves with the help of a Coach each quarter Team & Coach plot their maturity level using Zanshin, Shu, Ha or Ri for each of the five assessment dimensions Team & Coach build a plan for the team to achieve the next level of maturity in 2 dimensions The team schedules a follow-up assessment for next quarter Coach & PM Review Team assessments with Leadership Team
    41. 41. Lessons Learned/Challenges
    42. 42. Lesson’s Learned/Challenges cont. • Initially, strong resistance from Business Leaders o …but Agile is an “IT Thing” o “Here’s the requirements. See you in 6 months” • Create an Agile Leadership team, that is focused on removing impediments to Agile adoption. o Run as a [modified] Scrum Team • Be mindful of executive’s time • Take what you can get – not everyone’s schedule can be in sync o Working Agreements - email • Needs to be sold to leadership  What is the return on Time Invested?  How will this help the transformation succeed?  Schedule monthly follow-up reporting meetings
    43. 43. Lesson’s Learned/Challenges cont. "The man who passes the sentence should swing the sword." ―Eddard Stark • Beware the Game of Thrones  Fiefdoms  Silos  What Dr. Kotter calls “NoNos”  Detractors that have their own interests in mind • Make it fun/cool – create awareness  Public Scrum Board  Cards, bracelets  Public classes
    44. 44. What Questions Do You Have?