Im Gespräch: Arie van Bennekum über die agile Transformation

Interview von Stephan Schmöle und Katharina Stoschek

Zusammenfassung: Auf dem letzten AgiLE Barcamp in Leipzig hatten wir die große Freude ein Interview mit Arie van Bennekum, einem der Mitautoren des Agilen Manifests, führen zu dürfen. Arie ist Experte auf dem Gebiet des agilen Projektmanagements und hat uns exklusive Einblicke in seine Gedanken zur agilen Transformation gewährt. Wir wollten von ihm wissen, vor welchen Herausforderungen die sog. Agile Transformation im Jahr 2019 steht und was “agil” in der Praxis wirklich bedeutet. Arie sieht hier die größte Herausforderung in der Kunst, die zentralen HR Themen mit dem agilen Vorgehen im Unternehmen zu harmonisieren. Das gelte vor allem für Unternehmen, die in der Transformation bereits vorangeschritten sind und es stehen für ihn hier die persönliche Entwicklung, aber auch Vergütungsmodelle und arbeitsrechtliche Fragen im Vordergrund. Unternehmen, die gerade erst den Schritt in Richtung Agilität wagen, gibt Arie noch einen wichtigen Tipp mit auf den Weg: Mittlerweile finden sich immer mehr “Agile Coaches” und “Experten” auf dem Markt. Hier muss laut Arie Vorsicht geboten sein. Die Agile Transformation eines Unternehmens kann durch unprofessionelle Begleitung keine sinnvollen Effekte erzielen und im schlimmsten Fall scheitern.

Zum Schluss blieb uns noch Zeit, für eine kurze Runde #Bullshit-Bingo zum Thema “agil” – folgende Sätze liegen bei Arie in den Top 3 😉

  • Wir führen Sprints durch- wir sind agil. 
  • Wir nutzen JIRA- wir sind agil. 
  • Wir dokumentieren nichts- wir sind agil. 

Vielen Dank Arie, für dieses unterhaltsame und informative Gespräch!

Übrigens: Das nächste AgiLe Barcamp steht vor er Tür! Vom 14. – 15. September 2019 gibt es in der alten Baumwollspinnerei in Leipzig wieder geballte Agile-Power zum Mitmachen. Auch wir werden vor Ort sein und freuen uns auf bekannte und neue Gesichter! Hier gibt es weitere Infos zum Event.


Transkript im Original

Interviewer: Stephan Schmöle und Katharina Stoschek

Stephan: […] We just have prepared some questions. Not too much.

Arie: That’s good, questions. I’m fine.

Katharina: Thanks, awesome. I’ll just start with the first one. What are the top three challenges an agile transformation has to face in 2019?

Arie: I think the challenges are not very different from what they are today or were last year. What we all see is that the agile world is expanding, right? The knowledge, the experience and their transformations are all expanding. And if you are an organization that’s already in transformation, that you go -let’s say from agile 1.0 or 2.0 you grow up. You know, it’s not a static point. And I think for a lot of companies that have been doing agile 1.0 -or what I always call it: Agile in the workforce- doing it on their own and not in cohesion.

The next step will be what I talked about this morning. It is the collaborative approach in achieving corporate objectives by working agile and create the corporate capability, that would be the one. How can we do this together? I do not mean scaling only but I mean full organisation in cohesion.

Connected to it than (it might be happening at the same time or shortly after) is that once you have this agile work in the workforce and you are able to do this in cohesion (doing full delivery free of business failure to our market) then the next thing is the HR. We have agile people and there we have different profiles and different ways of appreciating what’s going on. So people need, let’s say in terms of appreciation, rewarding and professional development a different approach.

Also we are looking for slightly different people then we are used to. You will have to change HR policies and related topics. In my opinion that will be going on for next year and it’s not done in 2020.

Things might be difficult in the beginning but that does not mean you should not innovate and try to improve.

Stephan: Which leads us to our next question: Is the agile way an expert only event? Is agile something just for white collar workers?

Arie: Well, this is interesting because a lot of agile derives from Lean. Lean is from the car manufacturing industry, it dates from the late 40ies. And maybe in Japan they had in the car factory white collar workers where they were doing their work. I don’t think so. For me agile working is a way of thinking. In the Netherlands we have housing corporations and they have maintenance crews and I know already from several housing corporation they are working in an agile way and making note of this for people. Not just the carpenter and the plumber and the electrician but if the electrician is running out of work or is waiting for the plumber, he will help the plumber finish his work, that kind of thing. So you can see things are already going in. Things might be difficult in the beginning but that does not mean you should not innovate and try to improve. Yes, of course. You know, the kind of work if you do the white-collar work, it is more easy accessible. But I think it’s applicable in most areas. To be honest I think it’s in all areas.

Katharina: But I think it’s interesting that it actually derives from a different angle, so the blue-collar angle, the lean development, you said.

Arie: Where I started my journey, it was with RAD (Rapid Application Development). And that started in the 80ies in a chemical company. People were experimenting with something called (as far as I know) Rapid Iterative Product Prototyping.

[…]we have a lot of people who claim to be coaches and/or experts and that is not exactly the case. Also managers perceive it that way. Send people to a training and then should know how to do it. Then they try agile and it doesn’t work, and people say: Ah, agile doesn’t work.
Katharina: Is there anything negative you would criticise about agile?

Arie: [laughs] You’re asking me, right?

Katharina: Well, maybe a little bit provocative.

Arie: Well, the point is, I think, in the agile world at the moment we have a lot of people who claim to be coaches and/or experts and that is not exactly the case. Also managers perceive it that way. Send people to a training and then should know how to do it. Then they try agile and it doesn’t work, and people say: Ah, agile doesn’t work. And I think that’s a downside. It’s still young as an industry that we have a lot of people running around that have not sufficient knowledge, experience and skills to do what they have to do. There are people who try it and when it is not successful the first time they will say: Ah see, it doesn’t work. I think that’s the problem in many places in the agile world at the moment.

Katharina: Agile has become a frequently used word, like you said. Is the meaning still the same or has it changed since you and the guys signed the manifesto?

Arie: I think it has changed a little bit. At least for me it has always been like this, but I see now that companies are getting more and more aware of: Hold on, this should not be about IT only. And I’ve been in this world since 1995 but companies in transformation now get into the situation where they say: Hey, we have to connect strongly to the business because only then we are able to deliver full business value. Because that’s what it’s all about, delivering better business value, earlier and with a better internal quality. Am I answering your question?

Katharina: Yes, it does.

Be aware of guys over fifty with grey hair and a beard. [laughs]

Stephan: […] What does agile mean for young and older people? Do you see a different relation there?

Arie: Yeah, i think, and this is not exclusively so like we talked about the millennial thing, right? But what elderly people– elderly okay sounds like grey hair [laughs] older people tend to think is: How can I save myself? And younger people think: Oh, I can do whatever I like. Which is also wrong but exactly the kind of thing that we are talking about. But it’s what happens. So yeah, there is a different approach. Not exclusively but there is a different approach. Be aware of guys over fifty with grey hair and a beard.[laughs] And I said this in an old established organization in the Netherlands and I looked at it and thought: Oh F*&K, what did I say? [laughs] At the same time it is very spot on, right? That was on the side.

Stephan: Beautiful side. But here is our next question: Let’s play some bullshit bingo. What are your top hits when you hear people talk about agile?

Arie: Oh yeah. So. In agile we don’t document. That’s a nice one “We do sprints- we are agile.”. “We are agile- we use JIRA.”. And you are like: “let’s sit down and have a talk.”. Those things happen, yeah.

Stephan: So this was it. It was a wonderful time for us.

Katharina: Thank you so much really.

Arie: You are welcome.

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