Guiding an organization through a real Agile transformation can sometimes feel strenuous and even frustrating. Because often, teams have the theory covered, but they feel they need more support in actually moving forward.
That was exactly the case for VRT (Vlaamse Radio- en Televisieomroeporganisatie).
The Challenge: getting things done
The technology team at VRT felt that, although they did many projects, they never really delivered. Management initiated an Agile change initiative and enlisted the help of iLean to assist in improving the team. But we soon made it clear that agility isn’t something “you implement in a team”, it’s an entire structure you need to set up and a mindset you need to embrace.
We convinced them of the need for an Agile structure, and better cooperation between teams, project leaders, and management, to start delivering more.
Tom De Wispelaere – manager van Technologie Teams bij VRT“Our experience with iLean Consultancy has a lasting impact on our organization.
Their coaching expertise and effective agile work methods have led to a positive change in the mindset and approach within our technology teams. iLean’s dedication to understanding our specific needs and adapting accordingly, has resulted in a new team culture and organization within our company today. Thanks to these crucial changes, our technology teams are better equipped than ever to successfully tackle the significant(technological) challenges that VRT faces and we prove this every day.
Let’s start with a pilot episode
To test the waters, we started with a pilot team within VRT: the “networking” team (part of the IT Infrastructure Team). They would be an example for the other teams and would turn out to be great ambassadors for the Agile way of working. Next to standard trainings and coachings, Klimaks was used as a change approach to set the stage, and test the waters.
It soon became clear that our approach worked. We had the enthusiasm to thank for that, as the entire team and managers focussed on learning and growing.
And as it goes with a pilot episode that scores high, management decided to invest in the sequel and opened up this agile journey to all other teams.
Approval for a full season: implementing an Agile structure business-wide
We kicked off training for all teams, about ten of them. We covered everything from the Agile basics to practical tips and tricks on how to implement it and adapt its mindset. This way, all people involved had the necessary knowledge and skills to get to work and to achieve the next steps in their agile learning journey.
In a starting kick-off workshop we always determine, together with each team:
- where will we start?
- what are the implications for the team?
- what is your greatest struggle, and how can we tackle it with Scrum/Kanban?
- what are the benefits for the team?
It’s our mission to let team members decide and feel the advantages themselves, and to break through any resistance that often comes with a top-down decision. Doing things together is key.
After the workshop, we set up training sessions for all team members, teaching them the ins and outs of Agile working and thinking. We shaped project leaders into product owners, and team managers into Agile coaches, enabling them to become more active in the team again. This may sound simple and straightforward, but it is definitely not.
The value of an in-depth Klimaks training program
Parallel to the trainings and coachings, we started a Klimaks training program at VRT. This 4-month program allowed for an in-depth knowledge gathering for all Agile coaches and product owners within the teams. It served as the base for further support to help them define and achieve the next steps. Mind you, the Klimaks program is hard work! So it really is for those who want to give 100% and want to learn and grow. In the end, it’s totally worth it because it allows the attendees to gain the insights they need to put it all into practice successfully.
Next to valuable insights, the training program generated the start of a Community of Practice at VRT. There, the group could check how the theory landed in the teams, questions could be asked, and the common goal was very clear. In the meantime, the community now also covers wider teamwork topics.
We also helped set up a quarterly planning and thoroughly followed up on its execution to make sure it wasn’t just another task pushed into teams’ trays. Instead, it became a powerful and helpful tool in their agile transformation journey. Now, during the quarterly planning meetings, they dig deeper into what didn’t work and actively search for the causes, always in full transparency. When certain causes surface frequently, it’s a clear challenge to tackle.
Mutual trust x transparency = success
We believe that teamwork makes the dream work – that’s why VRT Management itself also took an active part in this success story. They planted the flag together with us and actively participated in reducing any resistance that occurred by involving all employees.
The active, supportive role of management was – and is – definitely a decisive factor in the evolution of this Agile transformation. VRT as an organization is very eager to learn and grow to make progress.
This enabled us to determine structures together in the upstream context. How do we get the work to the teams in the most transparent way? How can we improve the cooperation between different teams?
From our side, we’ve always been very transparent about what we needed from them, what was possible, and what was unrealistic. In return, we received great cooperation and trust, allowing us to achieve great results together.
The most impactful change this entire journey brought along, is that those teams now have a completely different setup regarding roles. In order to work in an agile way, you don’t only need an agile coach and a product owner, you also need to reconsider your entire team setup.
VRT has learned a great deal, and is always open to trying new things, reevaluating, adjusting and trying again. Just like us, they don’t expect perfection, they expect to grow.
And that’s a great mindset to work with. However, it comes with some challenges.
It’s only fair to say that adopting an Agile mindset isn’t something you ‘have’ after a year of trainings and coachings. Changing how you think is an intense journey.
Throughout this journey, we underestimated the need for continuous guidance and the difficult challenge of working through some impediments if you’ve never done it before. It’s a struggle within all the teams, so a lesson for us for the future: we need to give it more time.
The journey continues
Together we’ll keep working on growing towards an Agile mindset organization-wide. We’re happy we can offer inspiration during this journey and are thankful we can intensively work together on valuable improvement. Thanks to VRT’s trust in iLean and each other, their positive attitude, and their strong will to improve, it’s been a worthwhile journey so far.
Tom De Wispelaere – manager van Technologie Teams bij VRTThe iLean Consultancy team is very passionate and committed to the success of their customers. They have helped us at VRT to embrace the principles of agile working and implement them effectively in all our daily activities. We are grateful for the work of iLean Consultancy and highly recommend them to any organization looking for a reliable partner who can help them realize maximizing their potential.”
The perfect organization does not exist, not even organizations that fully embrace continuous improvement. But we are excited about the impressive steps taken at VRT, and we’re grateful for this – ongoing – great experience. Let’s grow together!
Are you frustrated that the steps you are taking, are not returning the desired results, or do you feel stuck in a specific problem?
Discover if Ilean can be the answer to your struggle and the guide for you Agile journey.