AgileByExample 2019

Andrea Provaglio

I work with leaders, executives, managers and teams in organizations that create intellectual products (mainly but not only in IT). I help them rethink their organizational dynamics, mindset, processes and practices, so that they can do business effectively in the 21st century. 

I work closely with executives, owners, managers and operative teams and I do a number of things including one-on-one coaching, team coaching, consulting on specific practices and, occasionally, hands-on training. 

I’m especially interested in distributed leadership and self-organization for knowledge-based organizations, a topic that touches on a number on subjects, including non-conventional organizational structures and individual and collective communication and social skills. And, I’m a long-standing Agile practitioner. 

In over 20 years of professional experience, first in IT then in Agile in the broader sense, I worked with organizations in three different continents, as big the United Nations’ FAO and as small as dynamic post-startup companies. I have a wide range of expertise, in both the public and private sector, with both large and small organizations and with different cultures. 

I’m based back in Italy but I’ve also worked for four years in the USA on a O-1 visa for “extraordinary abilities in Sciences”. 

A Language for Change

I know quite well from my experience with clients (working with tech teams, design teams, program and project managers, executives, HR, finance) that there are many challenges that an organization has to face to become an adaptive/Agile organization — and many pitfalls as well.

Among the challenges (learning new skills and practices, descaling processes, decentralizing decision making and accepting inherent uncertainty, just to name a few) one that is often overlooked is how to change the perception of the organization itself, so that it can become a 21st-century, adaptive organization.

In fact, while “traditional” organizations revolved mainly around production — and were therefore perceived through that set of lenses — adaptive organizations include continuous organizational learning and high-efficiency collaboration as part of their operational DNA and of their long-term sustainability and success.

Therefore, one critical question is: how can we help people shifting their perception of “what needs to be done” considering three different but interrelated dimensions? And what are the practical implications of this?

In this session I’m going to share some of the lessons I’ve learned while helping companies to rethink themselves. I’m not going to provide recipes or instructions (I don’t believe those can be replicated in a different context).

Rather, I’d like to suggest a change in language that may help people become more aware of what is preventing them from change, by reducing the level of “obfuscation” of what’s going on.

Workshop— Leadership and the Art of Listening

The importance of full listening as a key leadership skill. It’s important to notice that it’s not about “being a leader”, but to create an environment where acts of leadership are possible.

«Listening is probably the most underrated leadership skill», wrote Otto Scharmer.

This is profoundly true, if the kind of leadership you are looking for is one that’s connected to your own aspirations and needs, and to those of the people you interact with.

Real listening requires deliberate attention, openness, patience, curiosity, empathy, desire to understand and, ultimately, courage.

These are all highly developed character qualities, not just techniques that you can superficially practice — which is why real listening is not easy to find in people and organizations, where it’s more common to see someone operating from a low emotional level while giving supposedly high level advice.

Introducing change in organizations, including Agile and adaptive ones, is almost impossible without those qualities. If they are missing, change remains at a superficial, process- and practice-oriented level, but none of the underlying paradigms by which the organization and the individuals operate will be affected.

Most of the time, eventually, the superficial change fades away and things revert back to what they were, or worse.
In this workshop we’ll explore what Active Listening is, through guided exercises and the sharing of experiences. We’ll learn to identify different emotional states and to be present and open when we listen to others — especially others who have different opinions from ours.

You’ll also get a brief introduction to Clean Language, as a neutral approach to invite others to share their perspective with you.

Expect to be challenged, in a good way!