Lack of flexibility in Agile companies

Any methodology like, for example, Agile may be introduced into a company but lead to zero result. Even if the hands-on skills have been molded: how to hold retrospectives, how to form scram-board, or how to assess the tasks by the terms; the magic of Agile may not show itself. The most frequent reason for it is that the employees lack the necessary communicative flexibility (the so-called soft skills). You should be “Agile” yourself to use this methodology.

In 2013, I worked as a remote employee for a company that dealt with innovations and implemented Agile. I was invited to be the manager of one of the projects. Shortly after I started off, I realized that Agile did not work there: the company employees were too conservative. The methodology itself was implemented as if “in a manual” — there were all the roles and all the actions but permanent conflicts in the team could not find resolution which kept the projects from developing.

It was then that a thought occurred to me that you cannot just embed a methodology as wonderful as Agile. For a qualitative implementation, you should not only have technical knowledge of that philosophy, but also a certain mindset — a type of brainwork that will allow the methodology to work at its best. It does not mean that there is only one type of brainwork capable of working with that methodology or only one correct way of its implementation. It is useless to transfer the team to Agile for the sake of Agile itself. It is necessary to become Agile yourself — to be flexible enough. The understanding of what things from “Agile culture” you can use in your company and in what way will give the company and individuals an opportunity to be visioners, become innovators and leaders in their fields. For example, the Cisco company, which is in the top 100 of Forbes best companies, implemented the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) in 2015. As a result, they registered: 40% decrease in the number of crucial and serious flaws, 16% decrease in the flaw level, 14% increase in troubleshooting due to good cooperation among international teams and elimination of overtime with no harm done to the product.

The same thing happened to Lego which started using Agile methodology in 2015. Firstly, the company implemented Scram as part of Agile methodology, but having assumed that it was not enough, they added SAF. It reshaped all their work. The managers enthusiastically reported cutting out on excessive paperwork and other inefficient practices, saying goodbye to the army of “managers with electronic tables”. As for the developers, they are giving more exact assessments, and the results became more predictable.

However, when I got to know more companies that implemented Agile, I kept taking notice of one and the same problem: frequent conflicts within the team. The reason for this, as I saw it, was lack of flexibility both on the side of team members and team leadership. It came clearer and clearer to me that the method itself was not a panacea. Agile is a wonderful methodology, but it won’t work out if the team members do not possess enough soft skills, and brain flexibility in particular.

However, to possess is not be born with these skills. Nowadays it is not a secret for anybody that soft skills are those that one can acquire. You can develop them and level them up if you keep on practicing.

Of course, you can do it on your own, struggling to search information on the Internet or books. But it’s more beneficial, I deem, to get structured knowledge and practice with me as a coach. I put all my five-year experience of learning soft skills into it beginning with 2013 when I studied Agile and soft skills basics at Hyper Island school in Great Britain.

On my trainings, I will show you how to use different techniques to develop empathy, brain flexibility, listening skills, feedback skills. On completing the set of five trainings, you will be equipped with a set of instructions on what you should do every day to keep your soft skills taking roots and developing in you.

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