The Path to Organizational Agility: An Interview with Ahmed Sidky


Noel: Right. That leads right to my last question here was just once you have these agile teams, the agile department and that kind of thing, and they do want to expand it to the organization, what are some of the ways besides just showing, "Hey, look how agile we are. Look how happy we all are now at work."? What are some ways that those teams that have managed to get it right can kind of either convince doubters or even just help it spread faster than hoping everyone else catches on?

Ahmed: Modeling the desired behavior, and notice the words. We're not talking about demonstrating the practices. I'm talking about ... see and that's the difference here. A lot of the training, and when people talk about agile we talk about these milestone events, talk about retrospectives, we talk about writing user stories or our user theory workshop, we talk about chartering, but what happens in between? What happens in between is really the manifestation of the mindset and the behaviors of the people. What happens between the iteration planning session and the demo, or the daily stand-up? What happens in the day-to-day life how people think and react and behave? That's the best attractor to agile because suddenly people will see people being agile not doing agile. And, people are sick and tired of new processes because they are simply the flavor of the month and we know that there's a new flavor of the month cooked up. But really, the power is, the breath of fresh air is, to see a cultural shift and to see people truly start to change the way they think about work and the way they behave, and the way they collaborate.

And that, from my point of view, has been the big aha moment for people to come and say I want to be like that; not the iterations, not the daily stand-ups, but the culture, the behavioral, the habits. And those habits ... part of my presentation or workshop and tutorial there will be based on the work of the book, The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. The power of habit is that it's automatic. You don't think about it. Every person and every organization has developed personal and organizational habits. They know what they need to do in order to succeed. When we start to change those, that's really when agile becomes sustainable and spreads through the company.

Noel: That sounds awesome. That was great. I've never thought ... again, that so many sessions are based on improving your retrospectives, improving the work in each iteration, how to make stand-up meetings more fun and all that kind of stuff, and it's ...

Ahmed: We're done with that. It's the in between, it's the 90 percent of the other work that we're not talking about.

Noel: That's cool! That sounds like an awesome session. Everyone listening, again, this is Ahmed Sidky. He's going to be speaking Tuesday, November 12th, at the Better Software/Agile Development Conference East in Boston, Massachusetts, and his session is titled "Keystone Habits of Organizational Agility." Sounds like a fantastic session. Thanks so much for speaking to us today.

Ahmed: Thank you.


Ahmed Sidky, aka Dr. Agile, combines more than fifteen years of software development experience with research from his Ph.D. in agile transformation and agility assessment to guide enterprise agile transformations in Fortune 100 companies. Ahmed helps small to medium companies worldwide realize sustainable organizational agility and educates people—CEOs to developers—on the agile mindset and creating lean high-performing teams. The principal consultant at SCG Inc. and co-author of Becoming Agile in an Imperfect World, Ahmed consults, teaches, and writes. He co-founded the International Consortium for Agile, sat on the steering committee for the creation of the PMI-ACP® certification, and is a frequent speaker at agile conferences worldwide.

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