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Transformation. You gotta lead it.

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It’s easy to declare that you are transforming your development organization, but a successful transformation is complex and difficult. As a leader, you must make it clear to the “troops” that you fully support the changes required from the team and from yourself to truly transform the organization.

When it comes to agile, lean, and DevOps transformations, it’s important that leaders understand and support the need to become disciplined about scrums, sprint planning, playbacks, stakeholder feedback, investment in automation, and investment in tooling, to name just a few of the practices involved.

When leaders are driving change from the front lines and leading by example, the team is much more likely to push themselves harder to implement change, take risks, try again after failure, and continue to improve. Over time, with full support from leaders, the early experiments in change will result in cultural changes, as the new practices, processes, and methods become the norm.

Complacency is a strong opposing force against transformation.

Transformation from the top is easier said than done, given that most leaders rose to where they are today by performing in a certain way. Any change to their leadership approach might introduce more risk to their careers. But there is also a risk in staying the course. History books are full of complacent leaders and companies who were replaced by the next wave of leaders who were willing to embrace change and take advantage of new tools and methods. Complacency is a strong opposing force against transformation.

For leading edge teams, complacency is a natural enemy. These are the teams who are more likely to ignite the spontaneous, first-of-a-kind, industry-leading transformations. However, the bulk of transformations are planned. Too often, they are planned in a panic, to catch a wave that is about to pass them by. For a successful planned transformation, it will need your leadership, and an approach that includes these steps:

  • Set a vision of success
  • Agree on practices and tools
  • Consult an experienced coach
  • Probably fail a few times along the way
  • Course correct as a team
  • Learn, and eventually succeed

After a taste of success, with proof points in hand and top-to-bottom buy-in, it’s easier to drive those next deeper, broader steps in the larger enterprise transformation. To learn more about transformation and how teams within IBM have made the leap, visit the IBM Bluemix Garage Method site, www.ibm.com/devops/method.

Director Development, IBM UrbanCode and Bluemix DevOps Services

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