To summarize: your agile transformation is stuck. You’ve thought about your why, as in Becoming an Agile Leader, Part 1: Define Your Why. You’ve started to measure possibilities. You have an idea of who you might talk with as in Becoming an Agile Leader, Part 2: Who to Approach. Now, how do you create allies so you can unwedge your agile transformation?
First, here’s a big question: do you have a relationship with this person? If so, terrific. You have options as below. if you don’t have a relationship yet, it’s time to build a relationship.
Let’s assume you have some sort of relationship with this person. In that case, you might ask for coaching.
You might say, “Hey, wait a minute, Johanna. I’m the coach (or leader in some way). Why would I ask for coaching?”
When you ask for help, as in coaching, you offer your other person (often called a client) a gift. You offer explicit permission to explore options with the other person’s support. This is especially helpful if the other person is your peer or is senior to you in the hierarchy.
I know, this is turning the normal definition of coaching around. Many people think that if they are one of the agile transformation leaders , they have to have all the answers. No, you don’t. You might not know what the smallest possible change is. You might not be aware of the forces that prevent change (I’m assuming good intentions on everyone’s part). You might not know what this person might gain or lose with an agile transformation.
Asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness. Asking for help shows transparency and a willingness to consider other options.
You might “lead” the coaching conversation by saying something like this: “Here’s what I’m seeing. We’ve done this and that and gotten these results. Do you see the same things?” If the person has different data, wow, that’s great to learn. If you have the same data, you might continue, “I’m concerned we’re stuck. I see these options to solve these problems. Do you see something else?”
When you ask for other options, you open the conversation (and your brain) to possibilities you might not have seen before.
This coaching conversation is very different from, “I’m the agile expert and I’m here to help.” You might be the agile expert. You are definitely there to help. And, you need to enter the other person’s context to understand what’s going on for that person.
You might be thinking, “Oh, this is going to take time.” Well, it will. These are one-on-one conversations. You might have to wait a week to get on someone’s calendar. And, what have you got to lose? What’s the worst thing that can happen?
If you want to experience this kind and other kinds of coaching conversations in the context of helping your agile transformation continue, join us at the next Influential Agile Leader, May 9-10, 2017 in Toronto.
My next post is about exploring how you use influence aside from coaching to achieve win-win scenarios.