Open Agile Adoption, Please Join Us
I love the scene in Ace Ventura where they unleash the tribal crazy on him and he manages to throw two spears into the thighs of Ace. This happens despite Ace’s claim that he has cat like reflects. Anyway, as you look over this post you might get a sense of why I decided to use that picture, maybe not, but it was a damn funny scene.
If you are looking to execute an agile adoption or firmly in the middle of one, I would invite you to read Daniel Mezick’s, “Open Agile Adoption (OAA) Handbook.” I came across a copy of it when I attended the Scrum Coaching Retreat in Raleigh, NC recently. He provided a pre-retreat workshop called, “Agile Success with Open Agile Adoption,” that complimented the book. I am a bit bummed that I wasn’t able to clone myself and attend it while I was at the other pre-retreat workshop, “Mastering the Ultimate Tool: Yourself.”
One of the biggest points I took away was that a lasting and rapid transformation occurs when the adoption is invited versus mandated. Additionally the anxiety and fear associated with transitioning can be handled with a rite of passage, a technique that has been used in tribes for thousands of years.
The book is currently in draft with a release date sometime in February 2015, so there are some typo’s and there are few repetitive sections. However the repetition may be on purpose, because it does drive home some important points.
Daniel breaks the book down into three quick chapters. The first chapter is the executive summary, followed by the theory and then how to put it into practice.
The key points that I took away from the executive summary was the following:
- Passage rite is a core concept. This is a cultural event that helps people make sense of complex transitions
- There are three key events during a passage rite:
- A Beginning: Open Space meeting
- A Middle (Rite of Passage): Experiment, play, storytelling
- The End: Open Space meeting
- Use invitations versus mandates. This is very important. An invitation sends a much better message
In the theory portion of the OAA handbook, the following resonated with me:
- Core requirements for happiness at work:
- Sense of control
- Sense of progress
- Sense of belonging and membership
- Sense of wider purpose and meaning
- “Imposing an agile process from the outside strips the team of the self-determination which is at the heart of agile thinking.” from Martin Fowler’s “Agile Imposition” blog post in 2006.
- Liminality is a stressful state of being that occurs in transition
- Mature adults hold a model of reality. Genuine new learning challenges the validity of that model. Agile adoption will create liminality
- Uncomfortable in the transition, the natural and safe thing to do is fall back to old habits
- Instituting a passage rite is one of the best ways to handle liminality. Tribal societies have been doing this for thousands of years
- A passage rite provides a structure with a beginning, middle and end. That container helps soothe fear and anxiety
- Agile adoptions thrive on strong feelings of communitas. This is the spirit of community. Passage rites can help generate communitas
- Each segment (beginning, middle, end) represents a passage, and progress
- A coaches role changes with each passage. It should diminish over time. This should be announced. It serves as a message that the group is “leveling up”/graduating
The final chapter walks through the OAA in practice. Mr. Mezick echoes a recommendation made earlier, that anyone looking to use an Open Agile Adoption should read, “SPIRIT, Development and Transformation in Organizations,” by Harrison Owen. Hint, it’s free! In this chapter he provides a good breakdown of the steps needed. Also highlighted is the importance of storytelling by senior leaders during the passage rite and the importance of a committed Sponsor.
I invite you to read this short handbook and draw your own conclusions. I think the approach he has laid out is worth trying based on his experience using it and theory that backs it.
More information on the OAA can be found here.
If you have had experience with this approach, please leave a comment about it. Thank you for reading.