Leaders change or leaders change.
In Part 6 I shared with you how the teams turned painful day-long planning sessions into just a few hours, what they learnt and how they adapted.
This week, I am going to share with you what happened when I informed the clients of the changes I had made.
A few colleagues thought I should have included the clients in the decision-making process up front before making any changes.
My view was that my clients don’t include me in discussing changes to their teams or ways of working, so why do I need to do the same.
I therefore decided to inform them instead after the changes and make them comfortable by continuing to deliver on our commitments and improving the quality as we went.
Maybe a big risk considering the possible consequences of impacting my career, but I had a long working history with my global team, and I was confident that they would continue to deliver whatever the organisational structure, the process and framework we were using.
How It Went Down
When I informed the clients of our transformation to agile, the motivations behind it and what it meant from a high level to them. There were varied reactions –
- Some weren’t bothered – “your team Nick, do what you want as long as you continue to deliver.”
- Some wanted to understand more about agile.
- Some were pleased we were making a change and were fully supportive.
- Some wanted to understand how we could align our release cadence with their committed dates.
- Some thought it was a pain to come up every two weeks for the demos and sign off the functionality.
- And, one outraged lady.
They knew that I understood the consequences if it didn’t go well.
I scheduled follow up meetings with the inquisitive, the agile coaches and myself. We gave them an introductory to agile and answered their questions. They thanked us for the introduction and look forwarded to see how things unfolded in the next few months.
This was an easy conversation to have, and I kept them up to date on progress.
Funnily enough, I spoke with one of these gentlemen last week. He was running an extremely large regulatory program and was dependent on a lot of IT suppliers to meet his committed dates.
He was rightly concerned that our standard six-week release cycle would not line up with his planned dates. As you would imagine, there was a lot of senior focus on him to deliver.
I committed to him that we would deliver his functional changes ahead of his UAT dates but turn them off in UAT and production until he was ready.
We also discussed his faceoff to our team who had previously been a PM and agreed he would continue to face off to him, but now as a product owner.
We agreed to move forward and track.
The Do We Have To
After a while of coming up to our floor every two weeks, seeing the progress as working software rather than a status report and understanding our agile boards, these clients got into the process. They also enjoyed a closer interaction with the team.
This is a lady who I had and continue to have a great professional relationship with.
She is a consultant who was running a highly visible programme across multiple IT suppliers, and when we discussed the changes, she was convinced it would not work, and her programme would suffer. She escalated to the sponsor of the programme who was a senior trader in the business.
Within a few days, a meeting was set up in my office with us all.
We spent an hour talking about the changes we were making, the motivation behind them and how agile worked. At the end of the meeting, I closed out any objections.
The programme sponsor said – “it’s Nick’s team, and I have trust that Nick and his team will continue to deliver on time as before.” And we did.
A funny thing happened a few weeks later, the consultancy the lady worked for tried to sell me their agile services — the cheek of it.
In Part 8 I will share my observations that went down over the next six months of the transformation.
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