a10 DecisionMaking-Processes as Heart of Transformation

Decision-making processes bring people back in the centre, because they involve each individual with their diversity in a secure and open order.

Figure01: People carry the values within themselves

Agility actually empowers people with the flexibility to act in the dynamics of today’s globalized world and to respond to disruptive changes. Companies develop agility with the people who want and are allowed to belong to.

Transformation is a difficult process

However, entrepreneurial reality shows that transformation proves to be a difficult process and seldom leads to better results or the desired flexibility. The painful reality, however, is that most transformations fail. McKinsey reports in their studies that 70 percent of complex, large-scale change programs fail to achieve their goals.

The classic dilemma between a top-down and bottom-up approach has been effectively solved by the implementation divisions through their rushing ahead. The agile methods have provided pioneering agility there.

With Decision-Making Processes to Agility

In companies, pioneers often opted for agile methods in selected areas of implementation. They brought agility with them when the decision processes already embedded in the framework were consciously and safely applied.
This created a critical hot spot (Product Owner) between the divisions. The different needs and the contradictory approach between the agile and traditional world must be brought together here.

If the product owner is equipped with reliable decision-making processes, this predetermined breaking point can be solved elegantly.

Figure02: Break Point between agile and traditional Divisions

Already established agile areas, or those that want to become agile, try to isolate themselves from the influence of the traditional areas.

Managers have never really captured the agile concept, according to Rigby, Sutherland, Takeuchi in Harvard Business Manager 4/2017. Thus, transformation is often obstructed with good intent. Even employees do not have sufficient know-how about agile methods, according to the Hans Böckler Foundation 2017. This area of tension often hinders agile change considerably.

Of course, this situation will resolve itself with the expansion of agile methods. However, there is a danger that by then they will be devalued and weakened. A sure way is to have decision-making processes that avoid these risks.

The Impediments on the Way to Agility

Representative for many studies – VERSIONONE annual State of AgileTM survey – proves that an inappropriate corporate culture and the lack of support in management make up a large part of the impediments.

Figure03: Challenges Experienced with Adopting & Scaling Agile

The cultural barriers and the often inadequate or inappropriate support of management increased alarmingly in comparison from 2016 to 2017. The hope that the agile principles would be understood and simply implemented after all these years is not yet fulfilled.

The impediments listed are largely homemade and could be resolved with sound decision-making processes.

Lack of Commitment on the Part of Management

The greatest obstacle is always stated to be that the prevailing corporate culture does not fit. In fact, it does not fit the agile mindset, as it has emerged from traditional areas with the values of leadership and control.

This complication is argued in the wrong cause-and-effect sequence. The agile implementation is subsequent to the business in the process and responsibility. It needs therefore a commitment of the management:

  1. implement agile change in specific areas with appropriate commitments and support
  2. to introduce the transformation as a top-down process, if desired.

This is also the reason for further difficulties: Poor cooperation, inability to prioritize and commit, general communication problems, lack of agility and management support.

These difficulties can be cured in retrospect as well as taken into account during agile transformation.

Transformation requires Decision-Making Processes

In order for the transformation to be successful, it requires a mandate, repeated commitments and the involvement of management. The introduction of jointly supported decision processes with an accepted evaluation, a quality, commitment and prioritization process would create the solid foundation for a change.

Some companies try to use the advantages of agility without introducing decision processes (2) and agile methods (1) in the traditional areas. For this purpose, they try to introduce the agile mindset or the inner attitude with various transformation processes (1) in companies, which can only succeed to a limited extent.

In fact, companies are looking for an open, focused and courageous cooperation at eye level, based on reliable commitments. From this point of view, companies are primarily concerned with changing people’s behavior, which they believe they can achieve by transforming their inner attitudes.

Figure04: Agility without Decision-Making Processes and without agile Methods

This approach is a complex and fragile process. A sustainable change requires attentiveness and an excellent change design, followed by consistent implementation. They are a wonderful approach for the opening of the people involved, but not sufficiently effective for the robust anchoring of agility.

The failure of 70% of agile transformations shows that agile Mindset can only be achieved to a limited extent.

How do Values develop for the agile Mindset?

People live a culture. So companies don’t really own “a culture” nor do they have values. Culture arises when people behave according to certain values. To do this, the individual people who do the work must be empowered. Even more, it must be possible for people to interact with each other according to values.

People should get a chance to do well.

If someone shows up at the Daily Stand-up and is devalued, eye level is lost. The same applies if an employee in the traditional area is criticized by his or her manager as soon as he or she openly talks about defects. Then openness and courage are guaranteed to be lost.

For values to establish themselves, they must be embedded in practicable processes that continuously and reliably produce good results. Decision-making processes and consequently agile methods are predestined for this.
If people want to work openly with focus at eye level, this first requires a decision-making process that involves everyone and respectfully commits them to their duties, so that the competencies flow into a jointly supported decision. Decision-making processes ensure this reliably.

Figure05: People develop the agile Mindset in a reliable Environment

The values must therefore be anchored in the process, which is largely guaranteed for decision-making processes that are based on the inseparability of emotions, intuition and cognition, as well as for most agile methods.
The belief that agile values would spread from the agile teams into the traditional areas of the company is an illusion. Neither can values be given in top-down processes without introducing agile methods that standardize how we deal with each other. Rather, agile methods are usually weakened and devalued.

A top-down approach requires a commitment process – especially in management – so that lip service becomes real support.

A change in values will establish itself with lived successful experience with employees, managers and all participants.

How the agile Mindset develops in Scrum

To show how the agile mindset develops with agile methods, Scrum is chosen here.

The regular ceremonies, artefacts and clear roles encourage the development of the agile mindset by all involved. Repeated successful experiences in fixed ceremonies are a reliable way to develop the agile mindset with all participants.

In retrospective, the team can live openness, focus, eye level, courage and commitment in a protected space.
In the Sprint Review, the agile team and the product owner receive appreciation for their performance and can continuously develop from the feedback.

Ceremonies are rituals that develop personal skills and values due to the inseparability of emotions, intuition and cognition.

However, already the risk becomes visible, namely when the ceremonies, artefacts and roles are not successfully applied, the devaluation and the loss of the agile mindset begins.

This can be counteracted with jointly supported decision-making processes.

Stable and Consistent Culture

Culture only emerges when people behave consistently according to values that are experienced in successful decision-making processes. Values such as openness, focus, eye level, courage and commitment should not be prescribed, nor should they be demanded. They arise when they are embedded in accepted processes and applied. A commitment process is also a mandatory prerequisite for this.

Decision-making processes thus bring people back to the centre, precisely because they involve each individual in his or her diversity in a secure and open order.

Accordingly, a cultural change is then set in motion for each individual, in traditional areas as well as in agile teams.

The Decision-Making Processes for Agile Methods – www.-k-i-e.com

Only by embedding agile methods in a functional decision management system can the real potential be exploited. Decision processes would equip the agile methods with processes that reliably produce the results.

In Sprint Planning, the Development Team, the Scrum Master and the Product Owner determine which stories are implemented in the Sprint. The following decision-making processes are required for this: Rating, individual decision-making, insure the quality, prioritization, commitment and resource question. In advance, the product owner must have prioritized the stories (prioritization process) and described them with appropriate quality (quality process).

Ceremonies such as Daily Stand-up, Sprint Review, Retrospective and Refinement also require decision-making processes to ensure that good results are achieved and to prevent excessive group dynamics. Traditional decision-making processes are only suitable for this purpose to a limited extent.

K-i-E Scale – A unsiversal Rating System

The basis of all ceremonies for safe and rapid decisions is a standardized and accepted evaluation. This applies to individual and especially team decisions.

The K-i-E scale allows a fast and precise evaluation as a prerequisite for a clear decision. Its flexibility makes it a universal, accepted and standardized rating system for all ceremonies and decision-making processes.

The internal structure of the K-i-E scale is suitable for precisely mapping the little differentiated impulse from intuition. This characteristic forms the congenial bridge to combine intuition and cognition into a single decision strategy. Its transparency opens the way for using group competence.

The K-i-E Intuition – Consciously Using the Intelligence of Intuition

The natural intuition that every human being has, becomes the K-i-E Intuition, when it is expressed in a standardized and selective way through the K-i-E scale. With the K-i-E Intuition, the expert knowledge of all can be accessed in a flash, in order to make a first coherent individual decision for all ceremonies and artefacts. The K-i-E Intuition is the ingenious basis for lightning-fast communication without words in small and large teams.

K-i-E Resource Question – The integrative Way to a Solution

The resource question triggers a clear procedure that activates the necessary actions to make success possible. It is therefore a basic building block for all ceremonies and artefacts. The parties involved are obliged to make their contribution to a solution. Instead of criticizing, illuminating the problem or investigating the causes, a retrospective view is avoided.

Instead, competence is stringently demanded, and it quickly becomes apparent what and how much is necessary for success.

This shortens discussions about factors. Useful actions are worked out and as an accompanying effect it becomes visible how supportive someone behaves.

K-i-E Decision Strategy – Safe Decision-Making

With the individual decision strategy, agile team members as well as Scrum Master and Product Owner decide quickly and reliably. The distorting influence of the emotional system is reduced and the conscious use of intuition is integrated. Everyone knows – in the traditional and agile world – which deficiencies individual decisions have. For this reason, further decision-making processes are absolutely necessary for Scrum to succeed in its tasks and to integrate group competence.

Quality Process – Jointly Accepted Quality for all Artefacts

All artefacts such as the stories in the product as well as in the sprint backlog are created with appropriate resources and in appropriate quality. The quality is already produced in early phases, which limits later problems and efforts.

The quality process creates a self-organized process that enables those involved in the process to produce quality in a self-determined manner.

Quality problems in the backlog create the biggest problems, both in classical and agile methods. People get with the K-i-E Quality Process a chance to do it well.

The Motivation Triangle – Goals will be achieved

Goals will be achieved, conflicts will be resolved and projects become successful if the appropriate skills are developed, internal or external permission is given and the will of those involved is sufficiently present.

The K-i-E motivation triangle is a practice-oriented application of the K-i-E scale. It is a transparent tool with which candidates can be assessed in a comprehensible way.
With its help it can be derived how great the chances for the success of a project will be.

Commitment Process for Jointly Supported Decisions

Identification and loyalty to the goal are the essential success factors for all ceremonies par excellence. The commitment process involves all participants 100%. The process forces all participants to express themselves and to take an evaluable standpoint. Diverging points of view become visible right at the beginning and are brought to a common constructive solution through the supportive collaboration of all.

Obstacles, risks and hidden conflicts are identified in early phases. In later project phases they would cause cost increases and delays after considerable investments have already been made. This situation is counteracted even before the start of a project and the actions to ensure success are worked out jointly. The effect in the subsequent implementation is central to success.

Prioritization Process – Common Selection and Order of Topics

With the prioritization process, the core question – what is implemented in the sprint and what is not done – is solved together with the Development Team, the Scrum Master and the Product Owner. The topics to be worked on are then put in order by the Development Team.

For each sprint, various stories compete for the limited resources of time, budget, competencies, focus and implementation capacity. The prioritization process achieves the goal of finding a common set of requirements within a given timeframe.

Briefing Process for a successful Delegation – to get what you want

The delegation process ensures that you get what you need from internal and external teams to produce a good overall result. Prerequisites for the delegation process: a standardized evaluation with the K-i-E scale, the resource question, the quality, commitment and prioritization process and the motivation triangle.

The New Decision-Making Culture – The Book

The K-i-E theory of the inseparability of emotions, intuition and cognition provides the scientific basis for the agile methods and decision-making processes and thus places them on a solid foundation.

The decision-making processes for overcoming entrepreneurial challenges are described in practical terms for agile transformation in my book “Die neue Entscheidungskultur”, Hanser Verlag 2018.
More on my Homepage –  www.k-i-e.com

The New Decision-Making Culture – The Seminar (2 days)

Produce decisions instead of deciding. The inseparability of emotions, intuition and cognition is explained in a practical way. Practice-proven tools for 100% participation.

Next Seminar: Friday 25th and Saturday 26th January 2019

Location: Frankfurt am Main

The emotional system is the origin and end of all thinking. New thinking with conscious emotional logic expands human and artificial intelligence.

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Blog Series – How Agile Change succeeds

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  • The jointly supported decision as a superior form of decision-making
  • Why is an accepted and standardized evaluation so important?
  • What motivates people instead of criticizing to share their contribution to a solution?
  • How to consciously use the competence of intuition
  • The individual decision-making strategy als a foundation for every good decision maker
  • Quality as a prerequisite for personal responsibility and joint success
  • Commitment process – a self-organized process for a culture of openness, commitment, honesty, safety and trust
  • Prioritisation process – What is done and what is not done?
  • Embedding of agile methods in a functional decision management system
  • Decision-Making processes create a new decision-making culture
  • Calibrated emotional loops
  • Decision processes solve the leadership dilemma
  • The lack of support is homemade
  • The entrepreneurial reality
  • Agile change succeeds with decision management
  • Inseparability of emotions, intuition and cognition and the importance for decision-making and agile cooperation