To my mind, agile transformation is as often about changing a culture of certainty and predictability to one of experimentation. This is where the biggest lift is – changing the mindset – and the culprit is Fear of Failure.

It’s so bad that I’m often prompted to stop using the word ‘failure’ – especially around executives – which implies we’re not even comfortable with the term, much less the practice, of failing fast and often.

Unfortunately, the truth is you learn the really good lessons when you fail big.

But despite encouraging teams to welcome a messy first few sprints (to get the really bad experiments out of the way), large organizations seem to be really averse to taking the hit. It’s like a fighter who refuses to engage – preferring to duck, weave and run in order to ensure he never gets hit. Not only is this exhausting (aka ‘expensive’, in the real world), but there are two insidious side effects: our teams never get to experience real failure together, which limits their cohesion and growth; AND we never become bold, brave, experimental….innovative.

Changing this mindset and behaviour requires real leadership. As I mentioned above, this is the Big Lift. It may be one of the most important things you learn how to do as a practitioner. But it requires the courage to speak to leadership, which can only come from a powerful vision and ethos….once again, we need a badass.

Listen to the entire episode here.

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