What amazes me is that after a decade of failing at a rate of +70 to 94% in our Agile, DevOps, DevSecOps, Digital, or Business adoptions and transformations, we are still failing at a similar rate. It is no secret that there is a required progression for our transformations which is culture, mindset, people, data, process (flow) and tools/technology. For the past 2-3 years there has been a continuous increase in lessons learned and best practices for how to succeed. The single primary reason why we fail is because we first start or begin with tools or process, instead of culture and mindset. It is no secret that the two (2) Cs, “Courage” and “Commitment” are required by ALL. In the past 2-3 years, all of the standards and teaching organizations I am involved with or reviewed provide at least one 2Cs module or 2Cs section in their training, certifications, or credentials. Some are better than others, but the point is the word is out there on how to succeed, yet we are still failing. So, what is going on? Why are we still failing?
I believe the “why” goes back to what I mention in my DASA Ambassador Deep Dive Video (https://lnkd.in/dvvy3Pu) which is individuals and organizations do not realize, underestimated, have not fully thought through, or simply not prepared, qualified, or ready to deal with the magnitude or amount of change required to succeed. I am talking about the reality of starting with culture and mindset evolution and transformation for the individual, teams, departments, and organization as a whole. It reminds me of the scene near the end of the movie “Trouble With The Curve.” The batter cannot hit a curve ball even when the batter knows the curve is coming. To me this represents most of our leaders today. Evolution, adoption, transformation is coming, but they are not ready, do not have the experience, and simply have never led this level of change before. This no slam, or nothing negative towards any of our leaders. It is a reality that none of us have ever led or been in leadership during a time like this, with these factors, with this level of perfect storm of dysfunction and disruption. So, why or how can I say this?
Let us sit with this or ponder on this for a few moments. You are a senior level leader, spent decades leading your whole career, and now you are confronted with “THIS”! Most of today’s leaders have not seen THIS before, have not led THIS before, and certainly do not understand or see the big picture or strategic vision of THIS. Every client I am working with, yes “ALL” organization’s leaders are struggling with THIS. I have had and continue to have many heart-felt confidential conversations with very influential and powerful people around the globe, some of whom are many years my senior, where the “magnitude” and the “reality” of what I am describing above hits them, and is self-realized. This is what I refer to as the moment of truth for the 2C’s. In that very moment, the first impression that is going through their mind after self-realization, is the simple fact that they now need to lead THIS. It is expected that they have the answers and know what to do and how to lead THIS. When in reality, nothing can be further from the truth. (To gain more insight into this area I would recommend to read my article or post titled “It is ok for a Leader to ask for help” https://leadtheflow.com/it-is-ok-for-a-leader-to-ask-for-help/)
So what is “THIS”?
I’ll start with what I call the “Current State.” Our current state has been built up over the years or decades with a traditional culture and mindset. Notice I am not saying months or year. Organizations starting up in recent months and years are already building with or staring from “future state” vision. I’ll describe the future state in a few minutes.
The Current State has a traditional culture and mindset which is transactional based. The culture and mindset, or value and belief set, is based on transactional values and beliefs. The leadership DNA is primarily transactional-based leaders. The focus is on the “what” with the belief that if I as the leader set a date where we will deliver “x” for my customer on this date, we will be meeting their needs. If we do not know how to deliver “x” we will figure it out along the way as we drive to deliver “x” on this date.
Next comes the “Future State.” The future state has been defined over the past few years of Agile, DevOps, DevSecOps, Lean, and other flavors of adoptions and transformations, what I call thinking and doing “dynamically.” As mentioned in my opening paragraph, there is no secret for what it takes to succeed with “dynamic” adoptions or transformations.
The Future State has a modern culture and mindset which is transformational based. The culture and mindset, or value and belief set, is based on transformational values and beliefs. The leadership DNA is primarily transformational-based leaders. The focus is on the “how” with the belief that if I as the leader focus on evolving how we think and work, the new found way of doing will provide my customer and I the reality of “what” can be realistically delivered when (the “x”). In the future state we think and work iteratively from a pool or parking lot of gathered work, and deliver something (a minimal or portion of “x”) at every iteration. The point is that at every iteration, something (a minimal or portion of “x”) is being delivered to the customer. The customer is then able to come back to my team and I with updates and we can adjust as we go for each iteration. Over time, we are able to keep up with delivering “x”. (To gain more insight into this area of “what” vs “how” I would recommend to read my article or post titled “Successful adoption of Agile & DevSecOps requires switching gears from WHAT to HOW” https://leadtheflow.com/shift-from-from-what-to-how-for-the-successfully-adoption-agile-devsecops/)
Next comes the “Critical Path.” As a leader, your job is to lead the journey of evolving or transforming the current state into the future state.
This is where the 2Cs, “Courage” and “Commitment” come into play. Based on how we have defined the current state and future state, based on the known recipe from our opening paragraph on what is required to succeed, do you have the 2Cs to evolve or transform from the current state to the future state? Do you believe in yourself as a leader, peer leaders, employees, teammates, supporting vendors…etc. that everyone has the amount of 2Cs it is going to take to evolve both “individually” and “holistically as an organization and supporting eco-system” from the current state to the future state?
At this point of self-realization is typically when the second heart-felt confidential conversation occurs. Insight into the “true reality” or “true magnitude” of just how much change is needed now begins to be felt. Meaning, the leader is self-realizing the amount of personal change they are going to have to undergo which is compounded by the amount of personal change in their fellow leaders and organization(s) regarding culture and mindset which will result and require changes in policy, regulations, and governance. In most cases, it is going to be a REWRITE, “NOT” an adaptation because transactional and transformational are like oil and water, they do NOT mix. At this point of honest vulnerability, I have never had a leader NOT use the word “overwhelming” or “insurmountable.” Yes, this includes some of our world’s most senior leaders across the globe; this was their personal gut check initial reaction moment.
With “THIS” self-realized, Now What?
Notice I said “initial reaction” in regards to leader’s use of the words “overwhelming” or “insurmountable.” This is because after they had some time to process or wrap their heads around the amount of change ahead, they realized the “significance” or “greatness” of the opportunity at hand. They realized that they can now take on a challenge which is going to put every ounce of experience, knowledge, and more to the test. They are going to be going deeper within themselves than they ever have before. Today is the day, when they get to truly see what type of leader they are. They can, more specifically their leadership can provide their organization a competitive advantage.
Think of it this way… Every organization in almost all industries is going to be impacted by this disruption and dysfunction which means they are all going to have to adopt and transform. The leader who most effectively leads their organization through the adoption and transformation will be positioned as the industry leader or be competing for the lead in their industry. Why? Because they had less churn, less chaos and most importantly, were able to retain and even attract the most talented resources.
At this point in time, I ask the leader to take some quiet personal time to gaze into the mirror. Gaze directly into the eyes of the “person” looking back at them and ask the question; “Do I have the courage and commitment to suceed?”
It is that simple, it is that hard to succeed in leading your Agile, DevOps, DevSecOps, or what I call “dynamic” adoption or transformation. Once you say “yes” to that person in the mirror, you got this, and there is no going back. You as a leader will be forever changed, and from here on out, “trusting in the how (process)” so that you have the trust and confidence in yourself to lead whatever comes next.
I hope this article or post is helpful and is a catalyst for gathering your courage and commitment to lead these types of change challenges. If you are interested in continuing the conversation, would like some help or assistance, please reach out to me or one of my team mates at the Catalyst Group. To schedule some time, please visit our Contact Us page and fill out the form, or visit my bio page under Meet The Team and “book a call with John”. Thank you for your time and look forward to hearing from you 😊