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3 beliefs you need to let go to start your agile journey - Wildcard 2015


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Slides (with extra info) for my talk at Wildcard Unconference 2015.

For the past 10-15 years, many organisations have gone through agile transformations, mainly in the software industry. The success rate has not been stellar to say the least. The State of Agile surveys point out that management support and general resistance to change are among biggest barriers to agile adoption.

In my experience, the root causes for resistance of change and lack of management support are: belief of the importance of maximising resource utilisation, batch thinking and process roll-out positivism, the belief that new processes can be rolled out in the organisation and communicating new prescriptive processes can impact the ways of working for everyone.

These paradigms are fundamentally incompatible with the agile way of working. If an organisation tries to transform its ways of working to agile without helping its members to unlearn these paradigms, the transformation will probably fail.

In my presentation I will provide examples of how these paradigms form barriers to agile transformation. I will also describe my own attempts to help people unlearn these paradigms in order to be ready to adopt new ones. I will conclude my presentation by describing the approaches that I have found working to help people unlearn these paradigms.

My talk will help people in any knowledge work organisation who want to change their organisation into more agile mindset and ways of working.

Published in: Leadership & Management
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3 beliefs you need to let go to start your agile journey - Wildcard 2015

  1. 1. 3 beliefs you need to let go to start your agile journey The ”Don’t Blink” version Antti Kirjavainen @anttiki Wildcard 2015
  2. 2. The purpose of this talk Give you ideas and concrete practices to help people and organizations get rid of beliefs that hold them back from embracing the new paradigm of knowledge work.
  3. 3. Our beliefs hold us back
  4. 4. 3 layers of culture Practices, processes, rules Values (stated) Assumptions, beliefs (unconscious) Source: Schein, Edgar (1992). Organizational Culture and Leadership: A
  5. 5. Why beliefs and assumptions are so strong? • Most things in a culture are built atop of those • Lots of connections with other ideas, assumptions etc. • Usually unconscious • Conflicting ideas and assumptions do not fit with the ideas and assumptions that are based on the old unconscious assumption • The idea with less sticking points has less change to prevail than the connceted (old) one
  6. 6. 10 years ago: Games for Learning
  7. 7. I used to design and produce games for learning • In collaboration with science teachers • For primary school children • ~10 years ago • Agora Game Lab, University of Jyväskylä • Problem: children’s misconceptions about scientific phenomena
  8. 8. Why are there seasons?
  9. 9. Misconceptions about Science • Hinder the children’s ability to learn about scientific phenomena • The earlier conception has stronger connections in cognition • Scientific knowledge is inter-connected, new knowledge sticks if it fits with the existing assumptions • A couple of misguided assumptions can hinder the child from learning most of related science (e.g. astronomy and climate theories related to model of seasonal changes)
  12. 12. ”Delivering each batch of work has costs, so it is most efficient to do it all in one big batch” Photo CC-2.0-BY-NC by Cameron Grant
  13. 13. Problems with batches or big projects • Assumption: big batches save money (true, but…) • Unconscious tradeoffs: • Losing the adaptibility to changes • Risks are discovered and acted on late • Testing of assumptions is done in the end • Scope tends to get even bigger – scope creep • Long time to market
  14. 14. ”Using specialists’ time just for what they are best at is most efficient”
  15. 15. Problems with specialisation • Loss of information • The need to ask something competes with the fact that people are already on their next assignment • Leads to multitasking • Task-switching reduces effectiveness • Lots of unfinished work, which is potentially waste
  17. 17. Keeping people 100% utilized on planned work is efficient Photo by Walter Parenteau
  18. 18. Problems with 100% utilization • No capability left to deal with surprises • Results in low predictability if there is variability (= surprises) • Often leads to multitasking • Task-switching reduces effectiveness
  20. 20. New processes can be rolled out to organizations and teams
  21. 21. Changes in an organization chart will lead to similar changes in reality
  22. 22. Problems with rolling out new processes, org charts • People do not change anything in their behaviour • People do not understand the changed process in the same way • Lack of commitment towards change • Hard to relate a modelled process to everyday work
  23. 23. Dividing the organization to thinkers and doers is efficient
  24. 24. Problems with separating thinking and doing • People far away from work have hard time seeing the real problems • People with most insight on improvement opportunities are left out of work design • Lessens commitment on improvement on ”doers” • Takes meaning out of ”doers” work
  25. 25. HOW TO GET RID OF THESE LEGACY BELIEFS? Photo CC-2.0-BY by wecometolearn
  26. 26. Problems with using logic to help get rid of old beliefs • The old belief has lots of connections with other ideas, assumptions etc. • The old belief is usually unconscious • Conflicting ideas and assumptions do not fit with the ideas and assumptions that are based on the old unconscious assumption • The idea with less sticking points has less change to prevail than the connceted (old) one • Arguments against the old belief have less existing allies in the cognition
  27. 27. 1. Experience Photo CC-2.0-BY by Jim Sneddon
  28. 28. Games for Learning: Experience • Safe experience • Distanced from subject matter • Chance for the child to experiment different strategies, theories • Constructed so that strategies based on actual scientific theories work better
  29. 29. 2. Reflection together Photo CC-2.0-BY-NC by Juska Wendland
  30. 30. Games for Learning: Reflection Together • Compare experiences from playing the game • Form a collective opinion on what strategies worked and why • Confirmation on individual observations from group • Connect the experience to scientific theory (at this point the experience has provided connecting points to the children’s cognition)
  31. 31. 3. Application Photo CC-2.0-BY-NC by Juska Wendland
  32. 32. Games for Learning: Application • Application of ther newly learned theory to another context • To reinforce the newly formed theory • I.e. Another exercise, project work etc.
  34. 34. Marshmallow Challenge Tom Wujec,
  35. 35. Marshmallow Challenge Experience Reflection Application
  36. 36. Multitasking Name Game Image CC-3.0-BY-SA by Henrik Kniberg
  37. 37. Multitasking name game Experience Reflection Application
  38. 38. Ball Flow Game Karl Scotland,
  39. 39. Experience Reflection Application
  40. 40. Value Stream Mapping Photo CC-2.5-BY-NC-SA by Michael Sahota
  41. 41. Experience Reflection Application
  42. 42. CONCLUSION
  43. 43. Assumptions and beliefs hold us back Practices, processes, rules Values (stated) Assumptions, beliefs (unconscious)
  44. 44. How To facilitate change in beliefs 1.Experience 2.Reflection together 3.Application in real context - experiment
  45. 45. Links to experiences, games • Marshmallow Challenge: • Multitasking name game: guider/multitasking-name-game • Ball Flow Game: flow-game/ • Value Stream Mapping: mapping-for-current-state-assessment/
  46. 46. THANK YOU! Antti Kirjavainen @anttiki
  47. 47. BONUS BELIEF
  48. 48. Control by rules, incentives and status reports is effective Photo by Dneary
  49. 49. What kind of experience would help get rid of this belief? • To promote fostering trust instead of building control mechanisms • To demonstrate how command & control is actually command & hope • Please share your ideas on this with me!