Agile Amped Highlight: Women in Agile


Happy International Women’s Day!

109 years ago, born from the struggle against women’s oppression and inequality, 15,000 women marched on New York City. A lot has changed in the last century, but women are still rallying for change and being the change that they themselves want to see. This year’s theme is #BeBoldForChange and SolutionsIQ is humbled and inspired by the bold change we see women in our own industry lead. Just two weeks ago at the inaugural Business Agility conference, our Agile Amped podcast had the opportunity with some of the leading women in our industry to discuss how Agile is affecting so many different areas of the organization — and indeed the world! Agile is penetrating into every aspect of business from who HR hires and incentivizes employees, how leaders lead and cultivate an impassioned following, to how social media has changed everything but especially marketing in ways that only Agile tools and thinking can survive and thrive in. And we are happy and honored to say that women are leading the charge in key areas and innovating solutions to problems that others can’t even begin to grok.

Learn more about the International Women’s Day.

To celebrate our appreciation for women and the International Women’s Day, we’ve curated a playlist of our favorite Agile Amped podcasts with female guests, like repeat guest par excellence Esther Derby who has 6 Rules for Change and Renee Troughton who thinks that performance reviews are often disrespectful. But starting out the list of our most popular Agile Amped podcast of all time, with more than 3,000 views on YouTube, is  the incomparable and highly esteemed Lyssa Adkins, who sat with SolutionsIQ’s Michael Tardiff at Agile2015 to shake out the difference between mentoring and coaching.

Our Favorite Podcasts with Female Guests

Mentoring vs Coaching: Show Me the Difference – with Lyssa Adkins

The industry holds that skills in both mentoring and coaching are useful for ScrumMasters, Agile coaches, and managers. Yet the differences between these approaches is not crystal clear for most people. It’s time to show more than tell. In this podcast, Lyssa describes the anatomy of powerful coaching conversations and mentoring conversations, how these skill sets address problems in radically different ways, and providing clarity on when to mentor and when to coach.

Renee Troughton on Uncomfortable Conversations and Agile Transformations

Enterprise Agile coach Renee Troughton believes that pessimism and optimism are additive: lots of horrible moments can give you a pessimistic outlook, while lots of positive moments can yield an optimistic one. “We ride this pessimistic and optimistic wave as individuals based upon the moments that we have in conversations everyday.” Perspective shapes how feedback is received — and that can make an uncomfortable conversation out of sharing simple feedback.

Too often, though, feedback is imposed on people by HR in a performance review, which Renee thinks often comes across as “disrespectful”. Instead, people should be able to communicate to each other the feedback they have. The ideal is to create an environment where feedback is welcome and not delivered in a disrespectful manner. Renee champions patience, mindfulness of how you come across, respect and optimism because when people are ready for feedback, they will seek it out. She recommends having a conversation and, if you’re the one providing the feedback, be aware of what your body language is communicating.

Six Rules for Change with Esther Derby

According to Esther Derby, much of the literature on change is very deterministic, which completely disregards the fundamental tenet that humans, being creatures of evolution, are designed to change. Change is often much slower than hoped for, and more painful than anticipated. After years of work and research, Esther has distilled her experiences into principles for successful transformation into Six Rules for Change. These principles address both the complexity of the organization and the complexity of the human experience of change. They provide a set of touch-points to guide change artists as they support and enable change in their organizations.

Esther also dives into another talk she gave at Agile2015, called “Coaching Flow: Moving Past Resistance.” She says, “People don’t resist change; they resist coercion.”

Author Andrea Fryrear: Agile is Our Only Hope for Modern Marketing

Given the growing level of complexity, scope and audience involvement, from Andrea Fryrear’s perspective, “Agile is our only hope” for modern-day marketing. Her book “Death of a Marketer”(due for release this month) takes a look at the trajectory and cycles of marketing and where it is now. In the book Andrea argues that Agile is the stage in evolution where marketing is at.

At Business Agility 2017, Andrea presented her talk “A Common Sense Journey into Agile Marketing”, in which she shares her experience of the first transformation with her marketing team. She highlights that Agile approaches that work for development teams don’t necessarily work for marketing teams: “Because [of] our challenges, our team structure, our skill sets, it’s really hard to create a truly cross-functional marketer, whereas you can get that in a development team much more easily.” Development teams gravitate to Scrum, which builds on cross-functional team members, whereas Agile marketers find more utility with Lean and Kanban.

 Talent Advisor at IBM CIO Isabella Serg on Agile HR and “the War for Talent”

Isabella Serg got her start in Agile HR in financial services and insurance in Australia. That’s where she learned that agility and adaptability aren’t just an IT or delivery thing. Today, as Talent Advisor at IBM CIO, Isabella focuses on “how to improve people, talent, leadership practices to develop great Agile leaders and attract, develop and retain great Agile talent.” This objective requires bringing an Agile mindset to the HR function — and indeed to all parts of the organization. Isabella is certain that non-IT teams need to be Agile as well to improve their responsiveness. IBM is leveraging organizational agility as a market differentiator because, as Isabella points out, “The war for talent is here… [Incoming young people are] really looking for great leadership, great culture, and great learning and development opportunities.” And this culture centers around the behaviors instilled by leadership. The most important driving focus, regardless of your organizational function (HR, IT, etc.), is “putting the customer at the center of everything we do.”