Changing to Agile: How to handle the move

Apr 22, 2013 | |
When you or your organization is trying to implement something new: a process, new rules, new way of working; there will always come with the good and the bad. There will be too much enthusiasm from some, and negativity from others.

However, when you have to get something done, you better be prepared and get it done. If it’s about implementing Agile here are some things that will help you get through the storm:
  • The Non- Believers- change is difficult for most and it’s okay to have a percentage of non-believers. They are the ones:
    • Who will question your every move
    • Have a comment every 10 minutes
    • May be even be vocal to the extent they question how it will help their team or organization
    • Sometimes a bit rude
Having them will always keep you on your toes and it’s a good thing initially, don’t get frustrated by their behavior  the attitudes or even the negative comments. Take it up as a challenge, prove them wrong and they will come around.
  • The Team Members- The team members will size you up, look for your weaknesses,  find a way to make sure you snap and be on your side while they bash you publicly. There are 3 kinds of team members:
    • The receptive ones- some of them will be open to the change and ideas that you bring. They can be the one who are frustrated with the way the team/organization has been working so far. They are also the one who want things to improve, in a way there are the positive influencers and on your side. Always keep them happy and listen to them.
    • The shrug(gers)- they are ones who will shrug their shoulders every time you ask for a suggestion or opinion. They don’t care about their team, they are the ones who focus on themselves and their work and their sentences start with “i”. Watch them closely and find ways to learn more about them. 
    • The blockers- they start every sentence with a negative vibe, they ensure their opinion is always heard, are attention seekers and will try to find ways to block your work and ensure it fails.
  • The Scrum Master- If the organization has been using Agile, scrum masters are already there and most of the majority might not be very co-operative from the very first day. Everyone has a style of their own and the last thing they want is someone from outside to come and tell them what to do. The best way to deal in such situations is to:
    • Just be an observer for the first sprint- don’t interfere in their way of working. Let them be. Instead look up the backlog and find ways to make relevant conversations happening. Ask why a task is blocked, or why it isn’t updated etc. This will open up a conversation without interfering with their work. The goal is to have the scrum master talk to you and start listening to you. When in doubt, the SM will ask for suggestions- give suggestions which are open. 
    • Don’t over ride the SM in front of the team- let the SM be the one in limelight. Let the SM feel that you as a consultant or coach are not a threatening them in any way. 
    • Be on the side of the SM- talk often on a one to one basis with the SM to discuss any concerns from both sides. Objective is to ensure the SM is talking more than you are.
  • The stakeholders- like most team members stakeholders differ in their opinion. Some have sponsored the change, some want to have it because everyone else is doing it and some give in because they don’t want others to think they are the negative ones.
    • Stakeholders while going through transformation are 3 types:
    • Confirmed- the confirmed stakeholders are those who are sponsoring the transformation. These are the names that are known to you, who will meet you from the initial days and is your support for the transformation.
    • Floaters- these stakeholders come and go. They are the stakeholders who will support, however you need to convince them that the change is going good. 
    • Hidden- these stakeholders are those whom you need to find out. They might not be the official stakeholders, but these are the people who can influence the primary stakeholders. So keeping them informed and buying in their support might be a great way to get the go ahead light and support in the transformation process. They will help you when in problem, find you the right person to talk to and even personally take the initiative to support you in every possible way. These stakeholders are the most difficult to find and are the most useful.
Bottom line, keep your eyes and ears open and it’s all about handling your team and the individuals than anything else.

To learn more about project management read my book Stepping into Project Management (Welcome to the #PMOT World). To connect with experienced Project Manager's from all over the world, get mentored or shadow for a day see the SIPM Community.