Micro & Macro Agility

You’re going through your day as you always have for so many years, you go to perform a task that requires a little extra exertion, and you fall to the floor. The presenting cause is evident to the first responders—you’ve suffered a cardiac episode. The cardiologist diagnoses you as having arteriosclerosis and schedules you for bypass surgery. The clogged artery is replaced, and with some convalescence, you’re good to go again.

Of course, the bypass surgery is corrective action, and the cardiac episode triggers a collaboration between your cardiologist and your primary physician to determine root cause so preventative action can be taken.

Empirical analyses reveal that you suffer from a variety of maladies including blood pressure, LDL, HDL and triglyceride readings that are way out of spec, respiratory problems, elevated A1C, and you’re overweight with excess belly fat. Taken collectively, you suffer from a malady known as “metabolic syndrome,” which stems from your long history of bad nutrition; little to no exercise; and other questionable lifestyle choices. The preventative action is to change the way you live, to eat healthier, to get into a regular exercise regimen, and to quit making dysfunctional choices in how you lead your life.

The trouble is that replacing well established habits that you enjoy with new habits that you won’t enjoy, is really, really, really hard, and is made even more difficult by the fact that it will take years before you start seeing any benefit. For example, I think that the number of tobacco-using people who, when told by their doctor of the accumulating evidence about the ill effects of using tobacco, actually quit using tobacco, is only about 6%. And the number of tobacco users who suffer a heart episode and are told by their doctor that if they want to see another sunrise they better quit using tobacco, actually quit using tobacco is about 43%. The good news is that we’re in double digits. The bad news is that 4 out of 7 people still just go on using tobacco. Whether the bad lifestyle habit that one is trying to kick is tobacco use, alcohol use, drug use, excessive gambling, or whatever, the odds of successfully bringing that bad habit to heel are improved dramatically when one receives qualified help (“qualified” as in having a track record of success).

OK, freeze that window and open this new one.

Your organization is going through its quarter as it always has for so many years, you are responding to a competitive threat that requires a little extra exertion, and you suffer a missed opportunity. The first responders diagnose the presenting cause to be that, IT isn’t delivering fast enough. The CIO is replaced, the new CIO begins the inculcation of Scrum, and with some learning curve, IT is good to go again.

Of course, replacing the CIO and adopting Scrum are corrective actions, and the missed opportunity should (but probably won’t) trigger a collaboration among the organization’s leadership team to determine root cause so preventative action can be taken.

Empirical analyses reveal that your organization suffers from a variety of maladies including the lack of a compelling strategic plan, a toxic culture, and an oppressive budget process. Taken collectively, you suffer from “organizational metabolic syndrome,” which stems from your long history of hiring for intellectual sameness, rather than diversity; seeking conditions of ease, rather than being aroused to challenge; and other questionable lifestyle choices. The preventative action is to change the way the organization is led, managed, conducts its operations, and to generally quit making dysfunctional choices in how the organization is developed.

The trouble is that replacing well established organizational habits that you’ve mastered with new organizational habits that you will have to learn, is really, really, really hard, and is made even more difficult by the fact that it will take years before you start seeing commensurate benefits. Based on my experience, the stats for individuals who kick their tobacco habit, as disappointing as they are, are more promising than the stats for those similarly suffering organizations who adopt new organizational habits.

Just like a graft or stent is a remedy for arteriosclerosis, micro-agility is the adoption of an agile framework, such as Scrum, to treat a specific problem or point of pain., like IT not delivering fast enough. Micro-agility is agility at the process level and is excellent at bringing light to an individual problem, pin-pointing underlying causes, and taking corrective and preventative action.

Just like your medical team will recognize that there are individual health issues, but recognizes that they are conspiring co-morbidities, and so take a holistic approach to treat your metabolic syndrome, macro-agility recognizes that there are individual issues, but that they are often conspiring co-morbidities, and takes a holistic approach, treating the whole organizational body as an ecosystem of interdependencies. Macro-agility is agility at a leadership, management and operations level, and is excellent at bring light to organizational problems, pin-pointing their underlying causes, and taking corrective and preventative action.

And just as the odds of bringing a bad individual habit to heel are dramatically improved when one receives qualified help (“qualified” as in a track record of success), so are the odds of bringing bad organizational habits to heel dramatically improved when one receives qualified help (“qualified” as in a track record of success). That’s where we come in.

We’re agilityIRL. We deal in both micro and macro agility. We offer certified and reality-based education, coaching and consulting in Scrum. And we also offer reality-based education, coaching and consulting in cultivating agility at an organizational level, among its leadership, management, and in its operations. And we have decades of real life experience putting these concepts, methods and tools into practice in the many organizations we have had the good fortune to personally lead. We’re qualified, and we can help you.

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