Rich Theil, Business Agility consultant and CEO of The Noble Foundry, discusses the importance of emotions, relationships,

realize an idea

trust, and vulnerability in order to successfully provide solutions to customers problems when leading an Agile transformation. We met at the Flow Academy workshop conducted by Fin Goulding and Haydn Shaughnessy at the Business Agility Conference Midwest that past Nov 4-7, 2019. The workshop is based on their book 12 Steps To Flow. The discussion is quite rich since Business Agility is based on key concepts from complex adaptive systems and complexity science and describes a frame of mind used when the rules fall apart or there simply are no rules. The discussion points are as follows:

  • Agile is a culture and a mindset rather than a specific methodology.
  • Agility is about team empowerment in contrast to leaders dropping end dates on teams and leaving them with no support or sense of how to proceed.
  • With an Agile Transformation teams can behave as owners of the project and be fully engaged. Senior managers work with the team.
  • Achieving the above is what led Rich to Business Agility.
  • Rich discusses the erroneous belief that somehow managers have the answers which always come from above. He references “Innovation Happens Elsewhere,” based on the belief the best ideas emerge from the team, collectively managing the brainpower of the group.
  • A really good manager focuses on the team being successful.
  • With a good Agile leader the team is in an environment where they can risk being vulnerable, increasing the collective capability which increases the odds of the team self-organizing.
  • Gary references the challenge with a quote, “We raise children to be dolphins but in business we reward sharks.” Also, Six Sigma situations occur very rarely. Rules either fall apart or are absent. Business Agility is a much.
  • Rich talks about the importance of relationships as reflected in the “I promise” approach a leader used to show both his commitment and the expected commitment of team members.
  • The above leads to the importance of emotional honesty between team members…a challenging but rewarding activity.
  • What makes this a challenging activity is team members need to stop self-protecting and be honest about strengths and weaknesses.
  • Technique is important but it is not the core. The core is changing the way people choose to relate. People over process – a foundation principle in Business Agility. This was reflected in Fin Goulding referring to constructive work as being fun!
  • It gets down to an old function from Project Management…being an egoless team. Rather than a collection of individuals the team works as a unit.
  • A dramatic change Business Agility creates is: work is brought to the team, which remains constant as a unit, rather than matrixing people across multiple projects.
  • Rich and Gary joke about the word “vision” and how it can be distorted to encourage greed vs staying on track with the principles and being honest about what can be done with the resources available to solve the client’s problem. Agility helps create a more realistic use of the word “vision.”

You can reach Rich at The Noble Foundry or contact him on LinkedIn.

Gary is available on LInkedIn as well as at Center for Managing Change.

If you need help in gaining clarity when dealing with complex situations similar to our podcast discussion, download CMC’s free e-book

MINDSET – 5 SIMPLE WAYS TO LOOK AT COMPLEX PROBLEMS and learn how to find a simple vantage point from which you can resolve challenges.

Your feedback is important. Choose from the following options:

  • place a review in iTunes,
  • click on “leave a comment” below, or
  • send any comments along with your name and the show number to contact at Center for Managing Change.

Listen to future episodes for our reply.