In a recent episode of Pulse Network’s CEO Corner, BigVisible co-founder Giora Morein discusses BigVisible, agile coaching, organizational agility & innovation, and how to convince executives that change is not only possible, but necessary. You can watch the entire segment here.

Key Highlights

Some key insights from the interview:

  • In today’s market, agility and innovation are crucial to success.
  • BigVisible coaches become true partners with their clients. The power of one and the strength of many means that your coach is entirely dedicated to you and your goals but has access to a large body of expertise.
  • Innovation is inherently high value and inherently high risk.
  • Most BigVisible engagements begin with solving a delivery program and quickly evolve to helping change organizational culture and rules
  • “Doing agile” isn’t the goal. Agile practices are one way to help accomplish your business goals.
  • Becoming a truly agile organization involves rewarding innovation and agility, which will likely include changes to everything from the organizational structure to compensation & bonuses.

Agility, Innovation & BigVisible

After a quick introduction of agile, organizational agility, and an overview of BigVisible, The Pulse Network CEO Steven Saber frames the conversation by saying that these days, “Everyone needs to be innovative .. There’s no longer an opportunity not to be an [agile] organization.”

Giora quickly agrees: “If you’ve got your MBA, you’re probably trained to … find the one right answer … and just follow the plan. [But] what if you’re dealing with a puzzle that you don’t know how many pieces [there] are, the pieces themselves are constantly changing, and the picture is constantly changing. .. Its not so easy to say there’s one answer because its a moving target. … How to navigate that ever-changing landscape is becoming and increasingly more important.”

Butch Stearns, Chief Content Officer of The Pulse Network, follows up by asking Morein how BigVisible helps an organization shift its culture in the face of all the pressure to maintain the status quo.

Giora answers, “Five years ago, nobody was interested in agile … We were considered the renegades … Today … a lot of those companies are latching on to agile because it is the latest buzz word, and not truly understanding how difficult and complex it is to actually make it work in a sustainable way.”

Giora explains that almost all of BigVisible’s clients begin by wanting to solve a delivery problem. And by applying new practices and techniques, these clients do see remarkable improvements in execution and delivery.

“What people start to realize,” Giora explains, “Is that once they’ve gotten faster and started to address some of these delivery needs, it’s almost like you’ve got these new superhuman capabilities … What do you do? How to you apply that in your business deals … How do we apply this to product strategy?

“Innovation has to do with identifying things that are most valuable and most risky. Because what makes them innovative is that we’ve never done them before, no one’s ever done them before,” Giora concludes.

Innovation & Culture Change

The three executives spend some time discussing the challenges of agile techniques and culture change in large organizations. They talk about how important it is to do things little by little in a safe environment, using experiments, prototypes and other small steps.

“Applying new practices is relatively easy, compared to changing mindsets,” says Morein.

One of the biggest mistakes companies make is to take a purely top-down approach without explaining why, Morein says.

According to Morein, “Doing agile should never be the goal. … You have some business goal, whether it’s to gain market share, to increase customer satisfaction, to reduce your overhead … those are the goals. We are applying agile because we do not necessarily know the answer to how to do those things. And even when we think we know, the answer is likely to change by the time we pursue it. … That’s what organizational agility means.”

Morein goes on to explain that the best way to empower culture change is allow people to experience the benefit of the change themselves. As they begin to adopt this way of working, says Morein, they soon discover that it’s a far more fulfilling way to work.

“One of the byproducts happens to be an increase in morale and … employee retention, even though that may not have been one of our goals to start out. … You have a learning organization … one that is adopting the idea that we need to be adaptive in order to succeed,” says Morein.

Metrics & Agility

The executives then move to a discussion of measurements. Although metrics are difficult, Morein says, BigVisible encourages measuring outcomes over output:

“The on-time, on-budget project really doesn’t matter if what you delivered nobody cares about and you can’t sell it,” says Morein.

Instead, Morein says, you should measure how well you achieved your goals.

Coaching for Agility

Stearns asks for one tip that will let an average employee know that a new process or culture shift is working and that the employee is doing well. Morein answers with a tip that the interviewers find “fascinating:”

“It’s not just about you. Success doesn’t come down to what one person does but rather to what a team does. … On any given day, what … have you done to make somebody else more successful? … If we were going to measure your success… maybe we don’t bonus you based on your performance but based on your peers’ performance. And that might affect your behavior…”

Leadership and Agility

The conversation concludes with a little Q&A, with Morein answering.

As a CEO, why do I need to do this?

Morein explains that as a CEO you’ll know the reasons for adopting agile or innovative processes. He then ofers some example reasons: You need a sustainable way to deliver rapidly to market, one that works on every project. The temptation, he says, is to believe that we can know exactly what the impact of our actions will be. What we’ve found, Morein says, is that we can’t predict that. Morein explains that effective leadership means knowing how to respond when you know you don’t know what’s going to happen. It’s a different bag of tricks than what you were trained to do, Morein explains.

Is my organization ready?

Morein says that he would tell any CEO, “You’re never going to be more ready … more risk-tolerant than you are today.” The market is just going to grow more complex, Morein says. The best way to start, says Morein, is to take a 1000-person problem and make it a 10-person problem. “Decide, where would I get the biggest bang for my ‘change-investment’ buck?” explains Morein.

Watch the video

These are just a few of the themes, tips, and topics that are covered in this video interview. Watch the entire video to see the full conversation, including ways to get started, whether a big-bang approach will work, and how to get help.