Sunday, October 30, 2016

Building an Agile Culture of Learning

Does your Agile education begin and end with barely a touch of training?  A number of colleagues have told me that in their companies, Agile training ranged from 1 hour to 1 day.  Some people received 2 days of Scrum Master training. With this limited training, they were expected to implement and master the topic.  Agile isn’t simply a process or skill that can be memorized and applied. It is a culture shift. Will this suffice for a transformation to Agile?

Education is an investment in your people.  A shift in culture requires an incremental learning approach that spans time.  What works in one company doesn’t work in another. A learning culture should be an intrinsic part of your Agile transformation that includes skills, roles, process, culture and behavior education with room to experience and experiment.
An Agile transformation requires a shift toward a continuous learning culture which will give you wings to soar!  You need a combination of training, mentoring, coaching, experimenting, reflecting, and giving back. These education elements can help you become a learning enterprise.  Let's take a closer look at each:

Training is applied when an enterprise wants to build employee skills, educate employees in their role, or roll out a process. It is often event driven and a one-way transfer of knowledge. What was learned can be undone when you move back into your existing culture.

Coaching helps a team put the knowledge into action and lays the groundwork for transforming the culture. Coaching provides a two-way communication process so that questions can be asked along the way. A coach can help you course-correct and promote right behaviors for the culture you want.

Mentoring focuses on relationships and building confidence and self-awareness. The mentee invests time by proposing topics to be discussed with the mentor in the relationship. In this two-way communication, deep learning can occur.

Experimenting focuses on trying out the new skills, roles, and mindset in a real world setting.  This allows first-hand knowledge of what you’ve learned and allows for a better understanding of Agile.

Reflecting focuses on taking the time to consider what you learned whether it is a skill, process, role, or culture, and determine what you can do better and what else you need on your learning journey. 

Giving back occurs when the employee has gained enough knowledge, skills, experience, to start giving back to their community to make the learning circle complete. Helping others highlight a feeling of ownership to the transformation and the learning journey.

It takes a repertoire of educational elements to achieve an Agile culture and becoming a Learning enterprise. When you have people willing to give back is when the learning enterprise has become full circle and your enterprise can soar.


For more Agile related Learning and Education articles, consider reading: