Scrum Gathering / Organizational Change

I’m just back from the Scrum Gathering. Wednesday’s sessions focused on introducing Agile organization-wide and organizational change.

We heard from executives at three companies who have adopted Agile methods. For these companies, Scrum is the starting point — from there they address engineering practices by bringing in XP. What was interesting to me is that they described three different models for implementing change (none of which match the anti-pattern I described last week).

One company introduced Scrum when it was clear what they had been doing wasn’t working any more. Pain was the motivator. That company started top-down and engaged middle-management and developers. The VP of engineering was in the thick of it, and provided on-going vision, coaching and support for the middle.

This company is delivering the software their customers desire with very, very few defects. They’ve also improved the work-life of the developers: sick time is down by 50%.

A second company introduced Scrum top-down in a classic re-engineering model. They’re getting great results improving the financial picture for the company. Employee satisfaction is going up. It looks to me like they’ve realized the benefits through fixing workflow — but they aren’t yet looking at supporting teams to self-organize. They may not get there, because the results they are achieving now are good enough for them, at least for now.

Both of these companies are relatively small and started pretty much the entire development group with Scrum at once.

The third company is huge. They’re adopting Scrum using pilots and working by attraction. They are gradually infusing new practices by showing people they can succeed, learning from each pilot sprint, and giving skeptics room to change their minds. This company is also providing on-going coaching support and training to the pilot teams.

I also hosted a panel on organizational change at the Gathering. Panelists were Tim Bacon, Jeff McKenna, and Diana Larsen.

There is no “one right way” to introduce Agile methods — or any change. Some strategies work better than others (and some hardly work at all); it depends on the context.

Change isn’t a process of logic — it’s a process of communication, emotion, loss, and practice. People are at the center of any change, and change happens one person at a time.

Mishkin Berteig posted his rough notes from Wednesday’s sessions.