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Proving Agile’s Value to Leaders

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Q: When Agile meets with power, power wins. How do we address this challenge during the process of shifting mindsets and convincing authority figures? 

Author Darrell Rigby responds: You are absolutely right, and there are two possible solutions.

  • Hide from pernicious power.
  • Help power to embrace Agile.

We choose No. 2, as described in our Harvard Business Review article.

Corporate leaders are real people, working hard to do what they believe is best for the organization. Respondents to a survey by NeuroBusiness Groups say that the three most valuable things for senior executives to learn would be knowing how to manage uncertainty, knowing how to cope with stress and knowing how to lead more effectively. Agile ways of working can teach all of these things.

The key is showing managers at all levels how Agile can make their lives better. Many of us have learned to succeed by adopting bureaucratic styles in bureaucratic cultures. But to thrive in a world of unpredictable and accelerating change, we need to develop new assumptions and adopt new behaviors. It’s doable. I know because I’ve done it myself. By experimenting with Agile ways of working, we learn to replace old habits with new and better ones. The change is satisfying, not painful (see Figure).

Figure 1: How do we develop and change our work styles?

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