According to Darrell K. Rigby, Simon Henderson, and Marco D’Avino (Harvard Business Review, 2018) agile turnaround leaders typically take five actions:
They communicate — even over-communicate — the strategic ambition to a broader range of people. Since leaders know they will be delegating far more decisions, they ensure that people making those decisions are fully aligned on what to do and why to do it. That way, how they do it can be flexible yet faithful to the strategy.
They serve as coaches, not commanders. In a turnaround, people are afraid to make mistakes, so they bring decisions to their boss. Strong leaders act as coaches and trainers to expand the quantity and quality of decision makers.
They strengthen lines of communication among the teams. To avoid becoming a bottleneck, they develop tools that help everyone see what all the teams are doing at any time.
“The agile approach injected a level of speed and accountability not found in many business turnarounds.”
They accelerate learning loops, emphasizing progress over perfection. They embrace the unpredictability and don’t get slowed by excessive precision. Adequate approximations will do.
They shift measurement and reward systems to larger teams. One of the biggest problems in a crisis is that people focus on doing what is best for the individuals they know and trust — which often means people in their own silos. Effective turnaround leaders enlarge circles of trust and collaboration.
In a conventional turnaround, a small team of people at the top tries to figure out a company’s problems and make the necessary changes. In an agile turnaround, hundreds or even thousands of employees attack those problems at the root — and are learning skills they can put to work when the company recovers. The agile approach is indisputably better.
The Braintrust Consulting Group is a worldwide leader in Agile transformations. Through practical, hands-on training and enterprise and team coaching, we help our clients learn, plan, and implement Agile processes, such as Scrum and Kanban. Our goal is to teach our clients how to increase predictability of delivery, decrease time-to-market, and improve overall client satisfaction. We hope that our paths will cross soon.
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