The nr. 1 success factor


Agile transformations or transitions are abundantly present nowadays in almost any business you can think of. Agile is no longer limited to IT only.

More and more non-tech companies are moving in the Agile direction, with success, to some extent I might add.

Why is that? Where tech-companies are very successful in any way of Agile working, we don't see the same results in non-tech companies. Of course being a tech-company is no guarantee to succeed in being Agile, but the majority is doing quite alright.

One thing is true: the tech-companies did embrace Agile a lot sooner than the non-tech colleagues. Comparing them to their non-tech peers is a little unfair.

Or is it? And why are small companies and start-ups for instance much better in being Agile than the bigger ones? Is it just because of the overhead that bigger companies have to deal with that is adding to the complexity? Or is it something else?

In my personal opinion it is something else. In my personal opinion (I said it twice, it must be true now ;-) ), we suck (big time!) at one thing we keep trying to do. Over and over again. What is the one thing we are over and over failing to do right? I come to that.

First let me start explaining why we suck. We like choices, right? It gives us a sense of control to make them, sense of fulfillment to execute our choices or reaching our set goals. We see it all around us: everybody is offering choices. Choices in products (market differentiation), choices in values, choices in solutions, etc.

Let's see about Agile and Scrum for instance, it's no different: Scrum has 5 values to choose from. Yes, yes, I hear you: you should not choose between the values, they're all equally important!

Well, no, they are not! Why not? Because, and here it is: we, as human beings, suck at multitasking.

Over and over it's scientifically proven (sorry, men and women are equally bad): we cannot multitask. We are at best, really bad at it. Why is that?

Because we only have one brain and no, we are not using it for only 10%. We are using it's full potential every time. So each time you are doing two (or even more) things at the same time, your brain needs to switch. And switching takes time and during this switching you are receptive to other distractions. Thus making switching time even longer and what happens? You lose focus.

Ah! There is a good one: focus! I dare to say that this is THE key success factor in transformation towards Agile. People who are professionally involved in Agile, like myself, know this. Agile (and for instance Scrum as an Agile framework) is all about that: focus!

Keep focus on one thing and you will succeed. Finish first what you think is most important, has most value or will make your customer most happy, or something like that and you will succeed in doing just that.

Long term strategy is good, but if you focus on what you need now and what you need in the near future, will give you the benefits immediately. The long term strategy is only to give context.

Multitasking = multi-focus and should be avoided as much as possible to be successful. I think Scrum or any other Agile framework can help you with this, but as always it's about people. Make people aware of their multitasking and give them room to focus on thing at the time, and you will see a positive change.

People, like you and me, like another thing very much too: completing a task.