Agile via HD
'For an Agile-Mindset through Holistic Dialogue'
WHAT BRINGS HOLISTIC DIALOGUE & AGILITY TOGETHER?
Holistic Dialogue (HD) is an approach that can pave the way for Agile transformation as well as expose the existing blind spots for a supposedly agile-ready environment. HD allows individuals and groups to understand how to perceive things holistically, without any expertise.
HD is a space for inquiry and exploration that can help individuals and groups function more effectively and efficiently. Meeting each other where we actually are, understanding, together, what might be standing in the way which often is, if not always, our individual separative thinking. Ultimately, listening ends up being a necessity rather than a mere requirement in an HD. Then and there, each participant discovers for themselves the magnitude of collective action.
Challenges of Agile Transformation:
Agile transformations often fail, with studies showing that up to 96% of such initiatives do not meet their goals (Agile Adoption Survey 2018" by the Standish Group, State of Agile Report 2016" by VersionOne, Pulse of the Profession: Capturing the Value of Project Management" by the Project Management Institute, CHAOS Report 2013" by the Standish Group)
The biggest challenge to Agile transformation is that it is not approached as a new way of operating, but rather as a new set of values which, mostly, lead to a following and compliance-mindset, either internally or on a group level, if not both, contradicting the agile manifesto from the get-go.
The Role of HD in Improving Agile Transformation:
HD can help Agile principles manifest individually and collectively by allowing space for unhindered inquiry and exploration.
HD can help understand how to perceive things as a whole, which can improve communication and collaboration within teams and subsequently nurture a quality of creativity beyond the everyday traditional mind.
An HD Facilitator’s role is to clarify what is going on, when needed, and what might need attention. Especially during phases where confusion and miscommunication are dominant.
An HD fosters an environment where each individual feels empowered to inquire/ explore for themselves, unhindered by the common expectation to agree or disagree, moving towards a place of autonomy where the distinction between the personal and impersonal is irrelevant.
HD is a space for inquiry and exploration, transcending our psychological structures in real-time with absolutely no expertise needed. What makes HD very challenging yet effective is the way it goes about how an individual and, consequently, a group of individuals function. Namely, through the perception of what is taking place as a whole instead of analysis of collected information and data. The reason being, that once one implements knowledge in their own understanding, it becomes a limited structure through which one perceives, regardless of its background, relevance or even flexibility. This undermines an, often overlooked, innate ability to observe, which underlies our conjectures, opinions, conclusions, etc.
So if the Agile principles are to be shared as new information, then it will not lead to anything but a new set of rules and compliance-caused stress and rather a limitation on creativity instead of an enabling element for it.
The good news is that what makes Agile work is that it addresses, in Tripute’s view, an innate holistic quality in us humans and nature. Instead of being taught, Agile principles should be allowed to happen naturally, both for individuals and groups. HD is looking to give space to that quality, as it seems that it can be a very powerful agent of change.
One of the things that makes HD different is the deep understanding of thought and thinking. Traditionally we overlook the fact that we live our lives through the dominant thought process, so we do not question and inquire into it. Our conditioning is all there, expressed in thought. So the lack of this foundational understanding hinders and breaks down the dialogue, communication and the flow of living. Thus, the facilitator's job is to help people understand what's happening and what might need to be looked at more closely. Having said that, the facilitator's role is not fixed, as an HD is not run by concrete roles.
For more information about the facilitator’s responsibilities please navigate towards the end of this page.
Generic HD procedure:
To discover the common ground between the group members.
To explore the limitation of our current communication and, potentially, go beyond it.
To understand the process of thinking and thought and how limiting it can be in relationship and creative work.
To go into and unpack the impact of listening in the here-and-now rather than reflecting on theories or deriving meaning from previous experiences.
To see what happens when listening is its own action.
3 MONTH CYCLE
To be agreed upon with the management team with a recommendation of the same frequency as in phase 1:
3 Months of weekly HDs per department, team or any agreed-upon configuration.
3 Months of weekly HDs for the executive team.
3 End of month company-wide HDs.
Length of Each HD:
Each weekly and monthly HD will start with no agenda but the opening talk by the facilitator and the maximum duration of the meeting.
If our perspective is in fact correct, then any structure or formula to bring about the Agile principles cannot go very far. Also, having self-managed teams is part of the Agile principles. So, any imposed formula is a directive that did not come from the team itself.
As noted earlier, this is a near-impossible task - to function in freedom from any system of operation. It is unimaginable but definitely observable. Hence, a learning of a different kind is necessary. Not the traditional kind driven by goals, targets and accumulation of knowledge and experiences. Such traditional learning breeds compliance no matter how rational it sounds in psychological terms.
The problems of the individual need no expertise or accumulation of knowledge because all that does is nothing but clutter the brain even more. Thus, a conversation, AKA a dialogue, that depopulates, in real-time, rather than populates the psyche with content/concepts is key for holistic perception. Then action is not a mere idea that needs implementation but an already executable happening, hence, Agile. Our requirements and requests are changing rapidly making a clear mind a daily necessity.
The manifesting material results are to be observed through the work and daily interactions. As for the immediate effects, it depends from one individual to another. Also, this process, with time, might lead to filtering out individuals who are typical followers - where they can be placed in better suited roles/positions.
This is not a service that Tripute provides but rather a temporary partnership because nothing would happen unless all parties are fully immersed, especially since this endeavour is quite unpredictable and has the potential to change things fundamentally in ways that might even surprise the executive team themselves.
Together we can begin to reverse the ridiculous failure rate of agile transformation and break free from the traditional way of doing and seeking things. Through going directly into the core of the matter–the individual’s perception and system of operation–we could, factually, outgrow our animalistic heritage.
Lastly, here are a few ways to take this forward in case there is still any unanswered doubt or concern:
Examples of non-contextual HDs, for a taste of the actual thing and how it is run: SGHD
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ROLES & RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE HD FACILITATOR
Nourishing a safe and open environment for inquiry and exploration. The facilitator will display the necessary attitude in which an individual goes beyond the resistance to share whatever is surfacing up in their perception.
Encouraging participation. The facilitator will actively encourage participation and ensure that an opportunity to share is present at all times.
Keeping the conversation focused. The facilitator should ensure that the conversation stays relevant and engaging for all participants.
Facilitating the flow of conversation. The facilitator should help to guide the conversation, encourage deeper exploration when deemed necessary, and encourage individuals to clarify their thoughts and ideas in a general and impersonal manner.
Clarifying what is going on. The facilitator should help to clarify what is happening during the HD process and what might need attention.
Inquiring about the terminology used in each principle, hence, the language we use, and its related meaning down to the belief system each person supposedly has, so that individuals can discover for themselves an understanding of the Agile values and principles.
Being flexible. The facilitator should be flexible and adaptable, and be able to adjust their approach as needed to ensure that the HD process is effective.
Facilitating the process of experimentation, allowing individuals and groups to test and try new ways of navigating and working together.
Helping individuals and groups reflect on their experiences and learnings effectively during the HD process. Highlighting that such learnings extend beyond the workplace.
Following up with the group after the HD process to see how they are progressing and to address any issues or concerns that may have arisen.
It's important to note that the role of the facilitator is not fixed and should be tailored to the specific needs of the group and the organization in the field and in real-time.