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The dream of "AGILE"


I wonder about this dream of “agile”?

This dream that has been sold to us as the solution to getting the right stuff done at the right time, having delighted customers, happy employees and delivering value all at a sustainable pace.


Why is this so far removed from reality?


Why do we often find ourselves in organisations where work is overflowing, timelines are rarely met and everyone is just too busy?


I feel that society has evolved to reward behaviours that are deliberately keeping us from achieving this mythical dream of “agile”. We reward individuals who jump into action, and who can rescue the team/project/organisation.


Through a journey of discovery, I have come to the realisation that often the pain that we feel blinds us to the real problems that we need to face. Throughout this journey, I have had the opportunity to stop and think, and try to make sense of what is driving certain behaviours in organisations. During this time I started to understand that we need to look beyond, and let go of the immediate pain by zooming out and exposing the true problem-scape.


One practice that I often lean on within systems thinking is called the causal loop diagram. It exposes what we are facing to provide a deeper understanding of the problems, before jumping to action and into solution mode. This often leads to solving the symptoms we are experiencing and feeling rather than the root cause. This is a practice of visualising and understanding the relationship between elements within your organisational system and looking beyond just the symptoms.


There is an African proverb that articulates the second practice I would like to talk about; “To go fast go alone, to go far go together”. As human beings we must reflect on the level of conversations we are having together. Are we truly connecting to what people are saying or are we programmed to download information regardless of whether the other person is ready to receive it? We need to be mindful that we should not be looking for the smartest person in the room to try and solve all our problems, but rather find ways to create a shared understanding of our reality and gain agreement to embark on this journey of discovery and experimentation together. This can be a powerful tool in your toolbox and too often it is neglected. Are you having the right level of conversations within your daily interactions in your organisation?


These are two things I practice to assist me in helping the teams I support to not hastily jump into action and to collaborate instead. These practices help to ensure that no one is on their journey alone. Like Simon Sinek says, “Together is better”.







~written by Rochelle Roos for We Do Change


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