In a happy coincidence of events, I achieved my Certified Agile Leader certification from the Scrum Alliance last week. I was researching agile transformation and came across Michael Sahota's book, An Agile Adoption and Transformation Survival Guide. I really liked the book and so I invited him to connect on LinkedIn. In a bit of serendipity, Michael responded that he would be in Chicago to teach the Certified Agile Leader course on September 22, and he invited me to attend his course.
The course was great and Michael was an awesome leader. We covered way too many topics to do it justice here in this post, but I wanted to share a few highlights.
Importance of Being Agile vs. Doing Agile
Most of the focus today is on team level agile practices and process, and very little on organization culture and mindset change. The real benefit comes from the culture and mindset change, those most of the barriers to agile are also in these areas. Michael purports that while practices and processes (doing agile) may get you a 20% benefit, culture and mindset change (being agile) can get you as much as 300%!
Tools to help leaders
Michael shared a number of tools to help leaders increase their awareness of Agile and their current ways of thinking. He also helped me to understand that I cannot DRIVE agile adoption or transformation.
Leaders go first
A really critical takeaway from the course was the idea of leaders going first. This is essential - leaders cannot simply command everyone to be agile. It is the consciousness of the leader that sets the upper limit for the organizations to be agile and to change and grow. So change has to start with the leader. Michael has a great graphic to illustrate the point that leaders need to go first.
Decision making and the Advice Cards
This course reminded me that power and control are exerted through decision making. Whoever gets to make the decisions is the one who has control. We are all familiar with the idea of self-organizing teams, though in practice, most teams don't make many of their decisions, or, their may be little for them to actually decide. Michael shared some cards he designed to reveal decision making power. These "Advice Cards" are used similar to planning poker cards, though with leadership teams.
This was a great class and one of the most memorable and impactful I have taken in years. I highly recommend it!