The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.Marcel Proust
In Part 1, I spoke about I had to make a change to ensure we delivered a $20m portfolio of mandatory regulatory and market-driven projects, reduce the noise and inject some enjoyment back into the team.
A tough ask, right?
Now, I just needed to figure out what change to make.
A Journey of Discovery
I’m lucky to have a solid network of advisors, so I tapped into my network for some help. I called Mike, who was my ex-boss, mentor and previous leader of the same team.
He told me what he was leading an agile transformation across his global team of 2000+ people. We discussed the reasons which aligned a lot with mine, and he suggested a book I should read called Scaling Lean & Agile Development Thinking and Organizational Tools for Large-Scale Scrum: Successful Large, Multisite and Offshore Products with Large-scale Scrum (Agile Software Development) by Craig Larman / Bas Vodde Larman / Vodde. He also said that Craig was training his teams.
I’d heard of agile and related terms like scrum and Kanban, but my understanding was very shallow. It’s amazing how far behind the curve you get when you are internally focussed on building your career.
I suppose that’s where the term institutionalised comes from.
I read Craig’s book and started to become excited about agile and lean, especially the mindset.
I also knew of a team in the bank who used agile processes, so I set up a meeting with the senior leader of the team. His first question was, why are you considering agile?
His tone was quite stern, but after I gave him my reasons, he softened and started taking me through what his team did and how they worked.
Quite frankly, it blew me away, not just the agile process, but the focus on mindset, empowerment, client value, eliminating waste and hygiene. They delivered value every week to their clients, and each time they tweaked the system validated itself by firing hundreds of thousands of tests.
Hungry for More
After this, my excitement level grew, and I was hungry to learn more.
I got back to my desk and searched for agile training on the internal learning site.
There were four courses – Scrum, Product Owner, Scrum Master & Kanban. I wanted to attend them all but needed to free up the days in my diary. A horrendous task as each slot in my diary was always triple booked.
Luckily, I had a secret weapon up my sleeve. A lady called Christine. Christine looked after my diary. Or as she called it her diary.
Christine and I sat together to free up the days, and she took care of it as she always does.
I joined the four days of internal training, which were practical and also quite surreal. I’d never used Lego, coins, string, note cards, post-its and sharpies on a course before. The exercises /games demonstrated some of the core drivers and techniques behind agile.
An exercise I remember most was around value mapping. The agile coach and I worked on a value mapping exercise of my role, i.e. what I did every day and where I should be spending my time to add more value. We then looked at how the work I did every day would be consumed by roles in the agile process. It was an eye-opener. I could see in black and white, where I should shift my focus to add the most value to the bank and how I could free up time to do so.
Do or Do Not. There Is No Try
I established a great rapport with the coaches Eben & Tom on the courses and started to talk more with them about my thoughts on what I wanted to achieve and the reasons.
We had many meetings post the training to discuss a possible transformation.
Anyway, I don’t quite know how it happened, some Jedi mind trick I think, but before I knew it, I had two agile coaches booking to my budget and helping me plan the transformation.
If I was to do this, though, I had to get buy-in from my boss and my leadership team. If they didn’t buy-in, then it wasn’t going to be successful or sustainable.
Find out more in Part 3.
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