Can we not play tug of war, please?

Have you encountered individuals who demanded to have templates to follow when you try to roll out agile? And if you don’t provide one, then you’re deemed not to know the process well? These kinds of individuals use their resistance to go on the offensive. Or have you had teams where only the most senior people speak? Even if the other team members were being asked, they would defer to the most senior people on the team?

How do you and the rest of the company perceive and react to that kind of behavior?

I have encountered individuals who demanded templates to follow. In fact, it was a relatively high level individual, the rest of the people who didn’t want to think use that as their CYA (cover your “behind”) move, that they could go on the offensive instead of trying to defend not wanting agile. For the rest of the folks, they were scared, thinking maybe there should be a template to follow and would slowly be swayed to either follow, or to let me know that they couldn’t defend themselves against those people. It created an environment of war instead of collaboration.

As to the deferring folks, this kind of behavior bewildered the rest of the company. They didn’t understand why people would act this way, even though the coaches and senior management kept reinforcing the fact that it was okay to fail when trying out agile ways of working. Some team members left the team because they felt left out and others did not want to work with people who always deferred to their seniors.

So, why would those individuals act that way?

It could be that they are not used to the agile way of thinking. They are conditioned by their cultural norms. They are used to following established rules and structures, especially Asian cultures. So, they simply don’t know how. Then there are others who just don’t want to think. They want to be able to say, “I’ve done what you’ve asked of me, now I can go home. Leave me alone.”

What do you do when you have teams or individuals like that? Is it possible to change their behavior? Before I propose any solutions, I’d like to hear from you. Any ideas or things that you have tried? Drop me a note below. 

Also, join me and my colleagues in the UK and US on November 5, as we share our stories about resistance to agile that comes from middle management and teams. Are we going to find the problems divergent across the pond, or are they ubiquitous? Would we be able to find the same solutions to the middle management and team resistance problem? Hope to hear your thoughts live.

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