How to Create an Agile Community of Practice

How to Create an Agile Community of Practice

How to Create an Agile Community of Practice
via Blog by Stefan Wolpers

TL;DR: Creating an Agile Community of Practice

Creating an agile community of practice helps winning hearts and minds within the organization as it provides authenticity to the agile transition — signaling that the effort is not merely another management fad.

Read more to learn how to get your agile community going even without a dedicated budget and how to make it work with distributed teams.

How to Become an Agile Organization – When the Plan Meets Reality

Typically, the recipe for becoming an agile organization goes somehow like this: you need the commitment from the C-level to change the culture of the organization and thus its trajectory. You also need strong support from the people in the trenches who want to become autonomous, improve their mastery, and serve a purpose. Then – in a concerted effort – the top and the bottom of the hierarchy can motivate the middle management to turn into servant leaders. (Or, probably, follow Haier.)

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Accordingly, an action plan often starts with hiring a consultancy to help figure out a more actionable roll-out plan, mostly comprising of training and workshops, initial team building activities, and probably some audits concerning financial reporting requirements, technology or governance issues.

What this kind of orchestrated initiative often neglects is the grassroots part of any successful change: provide room and resources to the members of the organizations to engage in a self-directed way with the change process itself.

A successful agile transition needs an agile community of practice.

The Purpose of an Agile Community of Practice

The purpose of an agile community of practice has two dimensions:

  1. Internally, it serves in an educational capacity for agile practitioners and change agents. There is no need to reinvent the wheel at the team-level; regularly sharing what has proven successful or a failure in the context of the transition will significantly ease the burden of learning.
  2. Externally, the agile community of practice contributes to selling, form example, Scrum to the rest of the organization by informing and educating its members. The members of the agile community also serve as the first servant leaders and thus as role models for what becoming an agile organization will mean in practice. They bring authenticity to the endeavor.

Winning hearts and minds by being supportive and acting as a good example day in, day out, is a laborious and less glamorous task. It requires persistence – and being prepared not to take a ‘no’ for an answer but try again. Reaching the tipping point of the agile transition will likely be a slow undertaking with few signs of progress in the beginning. Moreover, management tends to underestimate the inherent latency. According to a recent study directed at the path of acceptance of new social norms, the tipping point for social change in an organization is around 25%. It shows that a committed minority can have a lasting effect once it manages to attract others who are willing to join the cause.

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