agile transformation done wrong. four common anti-patterns.

I spent an average of 110 days a year in "agile transformation" workshops in different industries and regions in the last decade. 

Here four anti-patterns I see, where managers going agile get stuck frequently:

1. AGILE MEANS CHAOTIC

Taking small decisions in frequent, fast iterations means one arm is always on the wheel while you drive. This could feel chaotic. But only if you lack the basic process knowledge about how to organize for flow, which allows you to steer smoothly through rough waters. 

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‘No’ is Guaranteed

“Not my circus, not my monkeys.”

Ever heard that one? It is one of my favourite linguistic imports.

If you are not familiar with it, it is the very visual Polish take on staying clear of problems that are not yours to solve, and for me it captures what might be a stressful situation in a manner that completely diffuses it with humour. I laughed when I heard it the first time, and still do when I think of it.

But it now has competition for my affections, as I learned another expression this past week, from Portuguese. Here it is:

“‘No’ is guaranteed”.

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TIME MANAGEMENT TACTICS FOR EMPLOYEES

I would turn down meeting requests, even with people who were my superiors. When I was invited to a meeting I always tried to find out what it was about. As soon as I‘d see a calendar invitation I would call who invited me and say: „Thank you so much for inviting me to the XY meeting. What will I decide or contribute in it? How can I best prepare?“ 80% of the time this would trigger the preparation checklist of the host (What will we create or decide? Is it just sharing information? What will be Simon‘s contribution?). 

Learn to say „no“ in a professional way. Peter Drucker said the most important productivity tool is learning to politely decline. By learning to say "no", I regained hours every week that I could use to get real work done.

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simon severino
HOW TO DELIGHT YOUR CUSTOMER

A list of Customer Delight moments must haves. This could be your guide to ensuring business moments with you are in fact delightful. You don’t need to hit all of these markers every time, but try and hit at least four this week:

1. It produces a wow reaction (how you see it? eyebrows go up).

2. It feels generous.

3. It has a personal touch.

4. It makes the customer feel valued.

5. It’s real.

6. It creates a ‘talking point’.

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INNOVATION MANAGEMENT

Ship, sell, learn.

How do you measure progress in innovation?

Here are three control questions to ask each week:

1. What did we learn?

2. What did we ship?

3. What did we sell?

In a good week you can "score" on all 3.

Write down each small win.

Celebrate tiny progress!

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DIGITAL MARKETING STRATEGY

1. If you have something to say, say it.

2. Say it every day. Reliability over perfection.

2. Build a space where your fans can gather.

2. Build it too early. Yes - Before you need it. Yes - At the wrong moment.

3. Give your fans something to believe in.

4. Give your fans also a wow moment that’s easy to talk about.

5. Make it easy for them to believe it’s actually going to work. 

6. That‘s it. Focus your energy of this week on only this.

7. Try to get back on focus mode when you lose it. Be kind to yourself. 

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STRATEGY AND CULTURE

THE STRATEGY
Reprogramming how the city center is used: For people, not cars. 

INTERVENTION ONE

When a progressive coalition won Oslo's municipal elections in 2015, it immediately sketched the strategic plan to make the city car-free by 2019. The decision was hailed internationally as another forward-looking Nordic policy to create a more desirable environment. 

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HOW TO GET SYMPATHY

Sigh.
Have a brave smile.
Be clumsy.
Weep.
Be embarassed.
Be unemployed.
Try to help but be inadequate.
Hurt yourself (spill something on self).
Admire others.
Cover face and weep.

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simon severino
WHAT IS STRATEGY?

If for the industrial age Strategy meant having a plan,
the digital age is more about the planning process. How can we make it
easy, creative, collaborative, sharp, clear, relevant and impactful?

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simon severinostrategy
WORK AND BUSINESS

Many people are stuck in operations.

They work a lot, and forget to do business.

Work and business feed each other. 

When I work, I solve client problems. 

If I just do this for ten hours a day, that might feel good but it does not create any future. 

So everyone of us will have to ask:

What is my pace?

How much time of the day do I dedicate to work, and how much to business? 

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THE VALUE OF TESTING IDEAS IN BUSINESS STRATEGY

We see many executives focus on the experiments
and lose sight of the learning goals (hypotheses).

We see even more executives debate in long meetings
what their learning questions are (hypotheses) and not
turning these into small testable experiments to run before
the next meeting.

What is your pace for collecting data, writing down hypotheses and testing these?
How do you invalidate or validate them?

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I DO NOT SEARCH, I FIND

I do not search, I find.

Searching, that is starting from existing circumstances,

and wanting to find the known.

Finding, that is the entirely new.

All ways are open, and what is found is unknown.

It is a daring, a holy adventure:

The uncertainty of such risks could in fact only be taken

by those

Who feel comfortable in uncertainty,

Who in not knowing, and not leading,

Are led,

Are pulled by the destination,

Rather than determining it.

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simon severino
LESS RISK, MORE FUN

These are the five critical elements of testing and de-risking new business ideas:

1 Build common hypothesis.

2 Craft an experiment card and let multiple experiments run in parallel.

3 Collect data on the experiments that invalidates/validates the hypothesis. With this evidence at hand, discuss which interpretation and insights to generate from it.

4 Translate insights into actions. 

5 Keep rolling. 

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simon severino
HOW DO WE WANT TO LIVE

When is something well-organized?

When do we feel freedom and flow? 

In decades of working on this with managers, my current take is:

1 the few things you want to focus on right now are in front of you 
2 all the rest is away
3 you can reach easily to the rest if needed, which creates freedom to move. 

Which one are the few things you should have in front of you?

The things that: give you energy, move you forward according to your current strategy, have the highest impact rate on your ecosystem.

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simon severino
FREEDOM AND COMMITMENT

How can I organize for freedom? 
When our seminar raises this question, the room is quite and the atmosphere intense.
This question is more than productivity. It demands an answer to a deeper question:

How do we want to live? 

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simon severinoComment
THE PRECASTINATOR

The pro-castinator talks a lot, meets a lot, but doesn't deliver.

It can be irritating to work with a procastinator, because agreed actions won't come on time, the energy level drops, and trust drains out of the relation quickly.

But there is another side of the coin, the pre-castinator. 

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simon severinoComment
FEYNMAN METHOD

Nobel Prize Winner Richard Feynman used a specific method to put large problems on a slow cooker.

He wrote down his 12 favorite problems and always had them around. 

Whenever he had an idea, read something interesting or had an inspiring conversation, he would put the new information into his system.

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