Agile Transformation is about moving from cooperation to collaboration.

Project Management practice varies depending on the environment. Still most often entering the new customer’s organization I find myself in the silo structure struggling to deliver cross-silo initiatives. Despite best intentions and declared matrix awareness the everyday silo-narrowed activities dominate the corporate culture. People focus on their short-term goals even if already being members of formally established project teams. So the delivery of project fails. The comment to this situation always is: we have problems with communication.

Yes, communication is closely related. Nevertheless digging deeper I have come to realize that what is missing is almost always the practice of achieving, keeping and changing agreements. From the simple mistake of making the assumptions without consulting required suppliers and service providers to believing that previously agreed deadlines will always be kept despite obvious constant change of circumstances. Implementation of the project management process is only a partial answer to this situation. Beside formalized steps we also need to introduce proper everyday practice.

3 months are usually sufficient to develop and implement a formalized project management process tailored to the specific environment. Establishing practice of agreeing, monitoring our agreements and revising them if needed takes longer time as it aims to change the existing corporate culture. Based on my experience I would say that 12 months of repeated coaching are a reasonable minimum. The result is a more efficient and more effective cooperation.

Still it could be even better. Although agreeing realistic scope and milestones, keeping to the given word and dealing together with arising issues makes a significant change there is more efficiency and business value to gain. The key is establishing true collaboration instead of only cooperation. Let’s use Webster’s Dictionary to show the difference:

  • Cooperation – the actions of someone who is being helpful by doing what is wanted or asked for.
  • Collaboration – to work jointly with others or together especially in an intellectual endeavor.

It seems pretty clear, doesn’t it? Yet, it can be very challenging if our actual starting point is close to the one described in the first paragraph. Of course not always achieving the level of true collaboration is needed as not always we deal with “intellectual endeavors”. On the other hand, it is obvious that in today’s business world we face more and more of those and they can mean win or lose in the global competition. Moving from cooperation to true collaboration has got a name. It is called Agile Transformation. How long will it take? To be honest, it is hard to say but the best about it is that it provides value for money in short iterations.

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