After a turbulent time, for many managers the world feels like Alice’s rabbit hole in Wonderland; our work environment has become weird and unpredictable. We need to get back to the basics of Agile. We learned this in an interview with Bart Stofberg, strategic consultant at Out of the rabbit hole. But what does that mean for managers? And how should organizations proceed today to increase their chances of survival?
We asked Bart Stofberg. We also spoke to him – with all the changes, events and uncertainties of recent times in mind – about his take on ‘the True Face of Agile’. What works and what doesn’t, and how can you deal with that as an Agile professional?
Steering in the design of the entire organization
‘In this changing world, the ability to change direction is essential to the very existence of organizations,’ Stofberg begins his story. ‘Organizations must be able to anticipate and react strategically, tactically and operationally to changes that are taking place now. And you can organize that agility as a manager by consciously dwelling on the principles of Agile with a broad view.’
Stofberg sees the Agile manifesto as much more than just preconditions for working in IT software development. ‘If you leave out the piece of software and park a method-like approach as Scrum for a while, you are left with principles that give direction in which the core of an organization has its foundation,’ Stofberg said. ‘It offers managers a way of thinking that helps them set up their entire organization.’
Only with a foundation of trust will you win the battle
Stofberg emphasizes that managers’ trust in their team underlies an agile attitude according to Agile principles. As an example, he gives the U.S. Air Force’s OODA (observe, orient, decide, act) loop. ‘The OODA loop is used in combat situations. Whoever has the shortest run is the most agile and wins the fight. Pilots are given full confidence by the organization in this process. They have to, because by any measure of distrust, their loops take longer and they lose the fight.
The U.S. Air Force has no choice but to trust. ‘So they turned the situation around and thought, ‘What do we have to do as an organization to be able to have all confidence in our pilots?'” continues Stofberg’s story. ‘And that’s exactly what organizations should also be asking themselves. What must managers do so that they can have full confidence in their team(s), so that those teams can anticipate and react agilely when the situation calls for it? Only then will you have a chance of survival as an organization.’
Fit for purpose over rules and processes
To achieve this, you have to go back to the basics of Agile. But what does that mean for managers? ‘First of all, you have to know where the organization is today, where it wants to go and what it needs to achieve that. A manager has to ask what preconditions teams need to perform. And this does not involve establishing rules, but principles that give direction.’
Managers often tend to make goals measurable. But according to Stofberg, it is much more important to translate the organization’s goal into guiding principles for the teams. ‘That way, as a manager, you offer space and frameworks for teams so that they can work fit for purpose and achieve organizational goals. And here, of course, trust is the key word.’
Who is Bart Stofberg?
Bart Stofberg is an independent strategic consultant and organizational change expert at Out of the Rabbit Hole, with a special focus on strategy, digital transformation, information management, collaboration, agility and innovativeness. In his book Manager in Wonderland, he shares 64 agile principles that provide direction in this changing world.
Bart Stofberg will speak about his take on “The True Face of Agile” at the annual Agile Consortium conference on Nov. 17, 2022. Interested in attending his presentation? Register by September 30 and take advantage of the attractive Early Bird rate.