Two Teams but Oh so Different

What makes one team Scrumdiddlyumptious whilst another the Killjoys? At LAST Conference this week, I discussed a tale of two new agile teams within the same branch working on a large scale transformation across the enterprise. These were two of 18 teams now working on this program and in the same 12 month period, one team soared and exemplified the Agile mindset and were empowered, self-organizing, high performing and continuously improving whilst the other team struggled all the way and felt “Agile” was being imposed on them and “killing all their joy”.
Scrumdiddly and the Killjoys
This was an exploration of the impact of leadership and culture. Whilst these teams were in the same branch and working on the same product, they had different middle level management. The difference in respective leadership style and approach was discussed and we explored how with the right agile leadership mindset, middle managers can make or break a team. Whilst Scrumdiddlyumptious was high performing, the Killjoys was plagued with vested interests, and a lack of agile mindset meant they were given permission not to change. As a results lots of anti-patterns emerged.
Enterprise adoption of Agile will only work if we have good practice happening at the teams level is based upon agile principles and Lean Leadership. For the cultural change to “stick” we needed to get back to basics and have good practice happening in the team’s first, then scale across the enterprise fuelled by Lean Leaders with an Agile mindset.
If we are true to the values and principles then we are on the right track but to change behaviour, we need different types of leaders. In this case study we focused on highlighted what we did to work with the leadership to foster a culture that allows teams to thrive and the lessons we can learn from the tale of these two teams to address these anti patterns using the values and principles of Agile.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Agile transformation requires teams and the enterprise to think differently
  • It is a huge cultural change (not a technology change)
  • Cultural change is difficult
  • Key blockers may be middle managers who perceive they have the most to loose from the change
  • Bring middle managers on the journey (all teams are agile teams
  • In complex environments different leaders are needed – supportive and servant leaders
  • To change behaviour we need to be adopt and agile mindset
  • We need to “Be Agile” not “Do Agile” – embody the principals and values


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