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Agile Transformation: Sustainable integration of an agile culture in companies
Executive Education / 13 November 2023
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Agile Coach und Begleiterin in der Organisationsentwicklung und Agilen Transformation
Nach Magisterstudium der Medienwissenschaft in London, Köln und Frankfurt führten ihre beruflichen Stationen von Führungsrollen in Softwareentwicklungsteams und IT hin zur Freiberuflichkeit und Begleitung von großen international tätigen Konzernen in unterschiedlichen Branchen ebenso wie Start Ups und KMU. Mit ihrer Entdeckung von Scrum ungefähr 2009 hat sie die Agilität nicht mehr losgelassen, und in stetiger Weiterentwicklung begleitet sie heute mit den Methoden der Agilität und Systemik Menschen, Teams und Organisationen in ihren Veränderungsvorhaben. Sarah ist neben ihrer hauptberuflichen Tätigkeit u.a. Mentorin am Founder Institute und Mitgründerin des Netzwerks und Think Tanks freelancers & friends.

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There is a persistent misconception that agile culture is a flood of colourful sticky notes and hip meeting rooms that look more like cafes than offices. Unfortunately, the reality is hard work and grey theory: Creating a truly agile culture requires experience, finesse, an understanding of human nature and a deep knowledge of agile methods, values and principles. And this transformation can sometimes take time, persistence and the courage to make mistakes.

From “Doing Agile” to “Being Agile”

 One of the key roles of any agile coach is to move teams and organisations from “doing agile” – i.e. simply using agile tools – to “being agile” – i.e. adopting an agile mindset. Only when agility is deeply embedded in the DNA of the team and the organisation can long-term, company-wide benefits be achieved. If you believe the Agile Manifesto, now 20 years old, then agility is a question of values. Methods and tools are secondary. The focus is on a transformative inner attitude towards work, the product and collaboration within the company. So, when we talk about an agile culture, we are always talking about a change in values that needs to be initiated, supported and embedded. This is where the Agile Coach comes in. An Agile Coach thinks of himself or herself as a gardener in this cultural biotope. He or she plants these values in the teams through targeted interventions and methods and encourages the growth of the agile culture.

The secret lies in transparency and “Inspect & Adapt”

 A medium-sized company in the field of mechanical engineering serves as a case study. The company is embarking on an agile transformation to avoid being left behind in a rapidly changing market. Under the guidance of an external Agile Coach, a transformation team made up of members from different parts of the company takes the transformation into its own hands. They develop a strategy in workshops and implement the first steps iteratively and incrementally. Transparency and the principle of “Inspect & Adapt” are emphasised. After each major step in the change process, the results are analysed, and the Agile Coach and the transformation team make strategic and operational recommendations for action and adaptation.

How Agile Coaches step in

 One of the key issues in transformation is the paradigm shift from output to outcome thinking. An Agile Coach helps to develop and reinforce this mindset using methods such as OKR or User Story Mapping. Agile Coaches use a wide range of tools, from Management 3.0 and Value Stream Mapping to Liberating Structures for meeting facilitation. All serve the goal of strengthening the team’s agile mindset. Agile Coaches encourage team members to proactively provide feedback and stimulate the continuous improvement process. They also focus on creating an open communication culture to encourage knowledge sharing within the team.

How can agility be measured?

Regular agile health checks and retrospectives can identify clear trends and progress on the path to internalised agility, from which Agile Coaches can derive recommendations for action. Yes, Agile Coaches love post-its and Lego. And fancy new methods. There is nothing wrong with that, as it makes it easier for teams and organisations to develop an agile attitude and change the mindset within the company. However, the main role of an Agile Coach is to create a sustainable agile culture that enables the organisation to thrive in a complex world. Not every company has already implemented agile coaches internally or created structures for an agile working culture – this is where the certification programme “Agile Coach” from Frankfurt School’s Executive Education comes in. The aim of this training programme is to develop an understanding of agility and to get to know and try out various tools. The skills that are developed are not only relevant for people who hold the title of Agile Coach or want to do so in the future. They are skills that are needed in all organisations because people work together everywhere. And every company needs to be able to deal with complex challenges and constant change in a targeted manner.

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