From Red Tape to No Tape: Organizational Misalignment with Agile Values

Part 2

Conclusion and Action Plan
Congratulations.  If you have read to this point, you’re obviously interested in changing your organization for the better.  If you’re in an organization that has signs of post-industrial orientation, now is a good time to take a fresh look at your organization’s underlying (and often oblique) belief system.

Ideally you understand that a post-industrial orientation for supporting agile development can sustainably benefit your organization You can see, on one end of the spectrum is the highly bureaucratic organization typified by large government organizations—an organizational orientation is necessitated by the sheer size of some of these organizations.  The other end of the spectrum is typified by small, nimble organizations such as entrepreneurial dotcoms—a stereotype enforced by the need to be ahead of the competition in time to market while being highly innovative. Most companies are in the middle of these two examples and can take advantage of the post-industrial orientation.

The point of the assessment is to identify areas of your organization where the post-industrial orientation is only skin deep, as well as areas where the framework for empowerment is in place—both keys for agile software development. The assessment helps to analyze your current culture and identify areas to maximize the advantages of a post-industrial orientation.  Implementing cultural changes involves reflecting upon your beliefs, values, and behavior and cannot be undertaken without a time and work from everyone, but the benefits far outweigh the costs. By improving your current culture, you can see gains in employee empowerment, leading to a more engaged workforce and ultimately a more effective organization.

Since it is often difficult to see any issues when absorbed by the culture, I would advise you to enlist the help of an executive coach who has had experience with multiple organizational transformations.  A third partly can often see issues that aren’t apparent to those in the fray of day to day operation – you’ll be using technique very similar to financial audits.  The coach can also make unpopular recommendations unencumbered by office politics.  The third point is that executive coaches have been part of successful transformations. Their experience can help you see a clear path to guide your organization to the next level.

Also recognize that making such a change can, in fact, be an exercise in using the post-industrial orientation. Explain the benefits and vision for change to the teams and empower them to plan and implement a better organizational orientation.  As Ken Schwaber of so sagely put it – a command and control organization is constrained by the ability, intelligence, and time of the manager.  An empowered team overcomes that constraint.  By reducing that constraint, you can be a catalyst for productivity.

[1] Suscheck, Charles. “From Red Tape to No Tape

[2] Stack, Laura. “Engaged Employees are More Productive.”

[3] “Employee Engagement, a Leading Indicator of Financial Performance.” Gallup. 

[4] Pink, Daniel.  Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us,Riverhead Trade; Reprint edition (April 5, 2011).

[5] Chagnon, Jason. “Engaged Employees Are More Productive.”

[6] Johnson, Gerry; Kevan Scholes, and Richard Whittington.  Exploring Corporate Strategy, Text and Cases, Prentice Hall; 8 edition (January 24, 2008).

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