Granted, everyone around the table was already sold to Agile so everybody was working toward the same objective. The question was how to bring traditional organizations to switch their ways of doing things in order to adopt a more Agile approach? The debate was “Should we use a big-bang approach where all the energy is put toward getting the organization to take a quantum leap?” or “Is it preferable to use small steps in an effort to bring the organization toward the desired state?”.
Some people around the table argued that to quickly gain acceptance and shock the system, it is better to take somewhat of an extreme position and avoid deviating from the goal and as such, implement the Agile practices without consideration to the context.
Others (including myself) believed that the hard position and extreme approach doesn’t help much. It typically polarizes positions and creates an environment where conflicts are frequent. Personally, I believe that small steps taken in the right direction are much better than attempting to quantum leap forward when it comes to large scale transitions.
As consultants we are called in to help organizations transition from a current state to a future and hopefully better future. We bring our expertise and our convictions to the table in the hopes that we can influence these organizations. What happens when the consultants’ perspective collides with the organizational culture, values, processes and people? Of course, it depends.
Needless to say implementing change is a difficult task and if it was easy, nobody would need help (i.e. consultants). But when consultants adopt the following approach:
- I need to change the organization;
- The best way to accomplish this objective is to stick to my position – no matter what – until the organization realizes that I am right (i.e. they are wrong);
- I will be successful for as long as I can hold my position.
What comes next is usually a dead coach…
Granted, the other extreme is no more useful when the organization thinks something like this:
- What we have been doing is exactly what needs to be done;
- We have all the answers and we will stick to our position – no matter what – until everybody accept the current situation;
- We will be successful for as long as we can hold our position.
What comes next is an organization that will be less (and less) adapted to its environment and a Darwinian (survival of the fittest) consequence will happen.
So what is the right thing to do?
If you are a consultant, it is always a difficult balance between sticking to your position and completely letting go. The answer obviously varies by organization but sticking to a hard position is rarely (i.e. never) a good approach to actually change an organization.