The Agile Transformation Challenge All Organizations Face
By Erik Krisko, Enterprise Transformation Coach and Consultant
I feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to present at this year’s 2018 Agile and Scrum Online Conference, hosted by the International Institute for Learning (IIL). In my session “From Freight Train to Airplane: The Automotive Transformation”, I discuss Enterprise Transformation efforts taking place to prepare one of the World’s largest automakers for the ‘Consumer of Tomorrow’, and the challenges in doing so.
One challenge that every transformation in every organization is subject to is psychology, and it is one that is frequently overlooked. The impact of expansive change is dealt with in different ways, by different folks. If not taken seriously, there is a very good chance of a dark cloud hanging over the entire effort. Transformation is not driven by strategy, it’s driven by people. To build a support system that you will need to achieve sustainable success, people’s feelings and concerns require the respect and attention that is too often trivialized.
Here are a few recommendations to help people deal with these changes:
Be a Leader, not a Manager
Contrary to the beliefs of some in positions of authority, these two are not the same. Simply pointing to the X’s and O’s from an ivory tower does not inspire people. I have worked with individuals clueless about the intricacies of their business and yet were still able to succeed. This success wasn’t because of their acumen, but a result of their ability to inspire, and their willingness to check their ego at the door. Regardless if you are in an ‘official’ leadership position or not, humility, selflessness, emotional intelligence, and confidence are some of the key strengths of effective leaders. These traits are what people look to rally around as they walk into the unknown.
Be aware of your influence on others
I’m always surprised at the lack of awareness people have in how their emotions and attitude affect others around them. Emotions are contagious, attitude is infectious, and both can work either for you or against you. The continuity of a high performing team hinges on the dynamic of those in it, and even a small amount of toxicity can be detrimental. Displaying calm in the face of adversity, confidence in making decisions, and having the courage to take accountability and accept constructive criticism can go a long way in how people interact with you, and each other.
Future Shock is Real
For those who don’t know what ‘Future Shock’ is, basically it’s a natural inclination to psychologically withdraw out of fear when too much is changing too fast. Because of the substantial fiscal investments organizations can make in their transformation, it can come with very aggressive timing expectations. This means “change a lot, and change it fast.”
While I certainly can’t blame an organization for wanting to see a speedy ROI, psychologically it doesn’t work like that. To get people out of their comfort zone, and achieve some momentum, people need to be presented with reasonable expectations and measures of success. Set goals that are realistic, attainable, and easily applicable in performing their work. Once they experience success, and start to understand the benefits of continuous improvement, the odds of sustaining that success increase substantially.
These suggestions are just…suggestions. If you’re looking for a silver bullet, good luck finding one. I can say with a high degree of confidence that if you do not respect the psychological ramifications of change, you are playing with fire. Adversity already has a head start, why give it more?
About the Author
Erik Krisko is an Enterprise Agility Coach and Consultant that has worked with some of the world’s largest brands, specializing in Holistic Agility and Enterprise Transformation. Currently engaged in the Automotive Industry, he resides in suburban Detroit with his wife and two children.