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The obvious question about agile that’s a huge secret

I’m a coach. I’m also an agilista. A sunshine agilista in fact. People visit my hometown in St Petersburg Florida because it’s the Sunshine City. And is it! Saint Petersburg holds a Guinness World record for sunny days. But there’s a secret to St Pete. A secret you gotta be local to know.

St Pete is across the bay from Oldsmar, FL, which just happens to be one of the Lightning capitals of the world. If you don’t know that, you might be surprised by the evening storms.

Agile has a secret too. Agile isn’t based on delivery. It’s based on people. People over projects. People over process. People even over the product.

Because people are the ones who do the work, and make it work - or not.

People - aka Individuals and how they interact with each other.

I’ve seen many well-meaning managers setup a “pilot” or “beta” team to try out agility. And they usually staff that team with the people they think will do best. Their best. Of the best. I’ve seen that team named “Alpha” many times by the same well-meaning leaders who want to use agile.

And then I’ve seen them pick at each other, until the team, and the bonds that hold them together, are bleeding. Eventually those bonds are severed irreparably. And the team is dead. Kinda like Margaret Heffernan’s Super Chickens.

Go watch it. I’ll be right here.

Don’t setup your A-team as a pilot. Pull together people, with all of their strengths and weaknesses in to a team based on a well-defined and clearly articulated purpose. A purpose based on values everyone understands and agrees to align with. With principles and guidelines that help them succeed.

And when those need to change, ask for their insight and input in what’s next.

Ask the Secret Question - What would you change?

It’s difficult but necessary way to have a Healthy Organization. That, as Patrick Lencioni says, is a real competitive advantage. And it’s rare.

Be the exception, and learn #WhatWeCanBecome

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