ARTICLE 

Mature Organizations Need Mature People

By Stephanie Schuster, mindset coach who works with Agile Teams and Leaders who want to be agile fast, aligning their mindset with strategy, framework & goals

How can you really implement Agile, Teal, Holacracy or any other new framework?

For such a mature organization you need mature people. People who’re able to lead themselves, who’re able to fulfill their role without a line manager telling them what to do. The point is that our education system rarely prepares people to do that. It prepares them to execute and try to become a manager to give orders to others – it’s come full circle.

So we probably need more people with mature personalities than are currently available. But the good news is that people can develop and maturity can increase.

Not only can we improve our skills by studying certain skills we can also improve our mindset by learning how our minds work. It depends on what beliefs, intentions, and motivations you approach your role as a Scrum Master, for example.

The way you improve your mindset is different from improving your skills. It’s comparable to learning a new language. Because it’s about learning “vocabulary” in the mindset environment, it’s about learning how our mind works, and training, training, training. So it takes more than a two-day workshop.

It’s a systematic process that takes at least three to six months. The time it takes is worth it. If you become aware of how your mind works, and train day after day in the “mental gym,” you’ll get consistent and lasting results.

Imagine what a difference it makes when you’re part of a self-leading team that includes people who’re excellent self-leaders and have a mature mindset and attitude. Or if you’re part of a self-leading team with less mature people who’re not connected to the overarching vision, purpose and why? The difference is huge for all concerns. Both in pure results and in the enjoyment of your life and work.

I love Fréderic Laloux’s approach. When a CEO asks him for advice, his first question is always: WHY Do you want to transform.

He even sends them back for a year to think about it and share it with other colleagues. This is wonderful because it gives the best chance of ending up with a crystal clear WHY. Clarity is very valuable. But we don’t always have enough time or want to invest such a long period of time. So there are additional ways to gain clarity.

 

Once the decision is made and the appropriate framework is chosen, it’s a matter of living the new framework, which needs to be done by people. The conversations and observations I’ve had with executives have shown that almost every standard framework is customized to meet individual needs. That’s pretty agile already.

It’s important to understand that it’s not about judging, it’s about observing. 25% of companies are already successfully agile. The rest aren’t.

Why do only 25% succeed and the rest struggle?

Is the reason in the system? Does it make sense to optimize the framework again? Maybe, but I don’t think so. I invite you to open your mind and think more holistically. Every strategy, every organization chart has to be fulfilled by the people and not only fulfilled but also lived.

 

Figure 1 – Ken Wilber AQAL

Who, if not Ken Wilber, could provide a better model for a holistic view of agile implementation?

Short form of AQAL by Ken Wilber. His approach of “AQAL” (all quadrants, all levels) fits quite nicely here. All efforts made to improve the strategy and the organization are represented by the quadrant at the bottom right, called “ITS”. It’s about the system. All details describing the current situation represent the upper right quadrant, the “IT”, the pure facts.

This is also the part of the quadrants that represent the outside of the issue you’re looking at. The quadrants on the other side, the left side, represent the inside view and the individual level “ME” and the relationship, interaction level “we”.

This is the missing point in the implementation of Agile. But a very important one. BY transforming to a new framework, almost all efforts are shifted to the right side, the target and external view. The other half is delegated to the stakeholders themselves. It’s like playing golf on the principle of “hit and hope.” To get the best out of something, all four quadrants must be in balance. Frankly, it’s rare for all four to be at the same level, and even rarer for them to last over time.

It’s much more important to constantly work on all four quadrants. As mentioned earlier, the path to improvement is different for each. This leads to the thesis that it takes different tools and probably different teachers. This is in line with the idea of a holistic approach.

I want you to understand that in order to implement the strategy developed on the objective side, it’s important to synchronize people’s mindset with that strategy to implement it. As mentioned earlier, both sides need to be developed and supported. On the individual level, the process can only be done by the individual. But he/she can be taught how to do it. This is what mindset training is all about. We learn to understand how our mind works. How we can use it to accomplish things and avoid sabotaging elements and train these skills.

No one consciously learns that in school. That’s what personal development, personal growth is all about. So, be agile and train your mind.

Stephanie Schuster is a mindset coach who works with Agile Teams and Leaders who want to be agile fast, aligning their mindset with strategy, framework & goals


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