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Agilating and scaling simultaneously with distributed teams, have fun!

Can a "one size fits all" approach work in large corporations? Can tools help to overcome the challenges? What does it mean for teams and colleagues? Our Agile consultant Alexander Koschel reports from practice and shows practical solutions.

When large corporations get started, they usually do it right, including in the area of agile. But the fact that it is a large group is usually challenging, which means many employees in different teams and this is usually spread across the whole region. Unfortunately top management often chooses a “one size fits all” approach, at least it is expected or even hoped for. Whether this can work out? It is hard to imagine that one approach would suit all teams equally, and that is where the dissatisfaction of the affected employees starts and continues when particularly meaningful key performance indicators are required, keyword “velocity”. The external expert is then allowed to clean up or not.

New central tools are introduced, unfortunately not always what is understood as standard in the industry (currently e.g. Jira & Confluence from Atlassian), and poof – the next construction site is opened. The software has a lot of potential, theoretically, if the development budget wasn’t tight …

Well – and if all team members are geographically distributed, what do we do? Of course, there are already solutions on the market with video conferences, digital whiteboards etc., but of course that costs money and there are guidelines and a central works council. The communication tools that are used throughout the group (e.g. MS Lync or Outlook) are useful to some extent, but unfortunately they cannot be used in their entirety by all external colleagues, whereby an external company can also be a sister company.

Where do you start? Or do you prefer to stop right away? One or the other actually proceeds in this way. Not so bad for an external colleague, the Agile consultant is wanted in every nook and corner anyway, but the company and much more the teams, they’re left out in the cold.

And the colleagues who courageously stick to the guns then try to make the best of the situation and that means what? Actually, it’s simple: Simply orientate yourself on the actual task at hand. With all these ideas and observations, you tend to forget too quickly what the original reason for being there was, e.g. simply supporting the teams to deal with the situation/status quo as best as possible and not to turn everything inside out.

Bringing forward targeted improvements in processes and giving new suggestions is always possible and also contributes to a change/improvement, even if only selectively. This does not mean, however, that at least once justified criticism of existing tools, processes and procedures should not be made. It would be naive to believe that something will change without constructive feedback. It should also not be underestimated how long changes simply take, especially in larger organizations, even if enough influence is available.

So don’t fight against windmills but turn with them and then see what can be improved by also turning.

Because despite all these critical observations it can be a lot of fun to turn with the windmill! If the working environment is suitable and your colleagues are nice, you are happy to help and see more unused potential than supposedly insurmountable impediments.