Preparing the soil for the seeds of Lean-Agile Transformation

Drive Book Cover

I recently attended a workshop in Washington D.C. to get licensed to teach the “Drive Workshop” based on Dan Pink’s book “Drive”.  I had already been a big fan of Dan’s ability to synthesize meaningful patterns and actionable steps out of the research and application of what social, behavioral and brain scientists have been uncovering over the last 40 years.  Having the chance to share experiences with practioners from many different contexts, it cemented in my mind how important this work really is to successful Lean-Agile Transformations.

Tilling The SoilOrganizations that desire to be successful with lean and agile transformations have to prepare the soil if you will before you plant the seeds of change.   One of the fundamental changes that needs to be considered by leadership as part of that ‘soil preparation’ is to look at moving out of the industrial age carrot and stick motivation mentality, what Daniel Pink calls Motivation 2.0 to what he calls Motivation 3.0 in his book entitled “Drive”.

Motivation 3.0 works on the assumption that is most common in modern social and behavioral sciences, that human beings have a third drive beyond survival, procreation and material reward drives.  This is referred to as intrinsic motivation and is framed by Pink as “Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose”

Managers that fear loss of control in a Lean-Agile Transformation are almost certainly in the ‘carrot and stick’, motivation 2.0 camp.  They view humans as generally unmotivated without the presence of rewards and punishments, hence need to be controlled.  This is not what science has known for over the four decades yet management in what they do; businesses in what they value and educational institutions in what they teach still ignore the findings in their efforts.

If leadership and dare I say management desire a successful (read valuable) transformation, they need to plant the seeds of Motivation 3.0 early, from the top down.  This will help to start the conversation about aligning the reward / merit system to encourage ideas, policy and behaviors that promote team based execution and more purpose driven commitment.

It will also provide an easier transition for management to a more Servant-Leader approach to leadership.  A Servant-Leader will serve their teams by providing a crystal clear purpose so that their folks can feel part of something larger than themselves through their work. They will provide and protect an environment that enables the appropriate level of autonomy given the team’s level of mastery in their craft and as a team.

With a little forethought the leadership of an organization looking at undergoing a Lean-Agile transformation can greatly increase their chances of successful change, especially at scale, if they take some time to till in a little Motivation 3.0 before they plant the seeds of change.,

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About Mike DePaoli

Mike DePaoli has been contributing to the IT community for over two decades and practicing agile and lean approaches to software development since 1996 in roles from programmer to CTO. His evolved approach to crafting successful lean-agile software development organizations was forged by the meaningful challenges he undertook at prior employers and as an Agile Coach at companies such as eBay, Adobe Systems, AOL, NetApp, Disney, Boeing, EMC, and Trizetto. Mike’s area of expertise is helping organizations craft strategic change initiatives that educate on and establish agile and lean values, principles and practices at every tier of the organization. Mike applies systematic thinking with a multi-discipline approach to his work. Mike is a Certified SAFe Agilist, Certified Scrum Professional, Certified Scrum Master (CSM) and Certified Scrum Product Owner (CSPO). He is a highly-regarded speaker in the Agile community having spoken at Agile conferences in North America, South America and Europe. He is currently based in the San Francisco Bay Area.

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