Hi, everybody. I'm Chris Daley and I'm from Aglle Meridian. I'm with my partner Kumar Dattatreyan and we are here to talk about a veneer and let me tell you start out by saying I have no idea what this is. So Kumar, can you tell us or explain to us what agile veneer is? Yeah. Well, you think about, you know, you buy a nice piece of furniture and it looks like it's wood, you know, like a nice rich cherry and then the salesperson tells you, it's a cherry veneer. And you start to think what does that mean? Really? Right. So it looks like wood looks like cherry but it's just a thin layer of cherry that's been wrapped around pine or who knows what, you know, particple board. You, you name it, right? So it looks good but it's not gonna last, right? It's, it's not, it, it doesn't penetrate beyond, you know, the few millimeters of veneer that is the cherry wood or even it may not even be cherry may be some kind of some vinyl or something. Who knows? And so I liken a lot of agile transformations to this sort of shallow concept of applying a veneer of agile agility looks good on the surface. But what does it really look on the inside? Right. And so that's, that's what, what, what I mean by an agile veneer Do you, have you seen this a lot as you go out as you go out and work? This is sort of like a personal rant of mine is the, you know, the agile industrial complex, all the certs and the frameworks and all that's out there. They try to and are successful at selling agile transformations to big organizations and, and promising, you know, hey, you don't want to change anything, just adopt these frameworks and you'll be agile, you'll be able to deliver more with less and with greater quality and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And you know, there are some, you know, lots of coaches out there that are very good and very well intentioned and they've kind of bought into this, this mindset that all you have to do is install this framework. And I won't mention any frameworks in this talk, and it will solve your problems. And so what happens is that the framework gets installed without really any support from leadership, except that while they're writing the check, they sign off, they say, yeah, let's do this. And so this, this framework gets installed. It's, you know, the, the teams that are usually water that have been running in a more waterfall style or reformed into agile teams going, they go through training lots of money is spent on certification. So they get certified in or, or whatever, right? In some fundamental course. And product managers and product, well, not managers, product owners are minted, they go through a course. Scrum masters are minted usually comes from the product. sorry, the project management ranks, right? And all these people are now working in this new configuration, right? Agile configuration. And and they're asked to deliver every two weeks, right. Scrum is an iterative process every 2 to 3 weeks and, and so they kind of go through the motions, right? They go through the ceremonies, they go through their planning, they go through the stand up, they go through the retro, they, they do all the things that they're supposed to do. It's like on the surface, it looks good. They're, hey, they're doing agile when you, when you peel back the layer, the veneer of agility, you what you find is troubling, right? Teams are disengaged. attrition is fairly high. This is from my experiences. I I don't have anything but my experience to speak from, attrition is fairly high. Developers are, they hate it because they're not giving the, given the freedom and creativity to be, to experiment, you know, to understand, to discover the requirements because they're on a two week time crunch every two weeks, you got to deliver something. You know, that's what the organization wants, they expect it. And so, you know, it, it gives agile and these frameworks a bad name frankly. And, and, and it's, it's, it's horrible to see, you know, because, yeah, the values and principles in agile are not about this. That's a good segue into our next. Why is it that the agile values? Well, why are they important? And what is missing in these trans when, when we go and we see these big transformations? Right? What's missing? I, I think that, that, I, when leadership isn't part of the solution, I mean, besides writing the check, that's the biggest thing that's missing, you know, I, I believe in, you know, in sort of this notion or idea of a steel thread that cuts through the organization from, from the highest, you know, as high as you can get to leader that is part of a, a, steel thread if you will, right, wound tightly together that they're trying to do something that's a little different from the rest of the organization. So I borrowed this term called the Steel thread term from Peter Merrell. The founder of XSCALE So this idea that it's a steel thread that cuts through the organization, it's one product, one service, one or two or three teams, whatever it is. And a, a very small group of of leaders, executives that are fully invested in, in seeing how they can make this thing work, right? And so the importance of agile values are paramount in that, you know, that they embrace these values that they, that they understand how to apply it. It's not just about going through the motions and going through the ceremonies and the you know, generating the artifacts and delivering something every two weeks. It's about the business value, right? It's about delivering something of value to the customer. And so this idea, this notion of a steel thread that cuts across the organization and you're organizing people, the the number of people that you need to deliver something and everyone's bought in, you know, when, when these teams start having success, other teams take notice like what's going on over there? What are these guys doing over in, you know, in in this area? How can we emulate it? That steel thread generates pull, generates pull and the pull generates the right kind of behaviors and actions to like what is this agile stuff? We need to learn this, we need to embrace these values. It's really working well for them, maybe it can work for us too, right? And, and that's what I think is missing. It's, we don't have that leadership buy in at the top, at the top level and, and more than buy in, we don't have their engagement, we have the support but we don't have their engagement, their active daily engagement. Are you talking about? I'm sorry to interrupt. But are you talking about culture too? Is co how does culture playing in this? Yeah, I mean, I think that it does you have to change climate before you can change culture. And what I mean by that is, you know, if in a veneer situation, you got this agile veneer culture hasn't changed. It's still the same underneath it all. It's still the organization still works as they always have, they still report to the same people, they always did, they still report the same things to the same people that they always did in the same format that they always did. And so you always have this sort of this, I'm gonna say it dual operating system except now you have to run, you generate two sets of reports, right? One that people are used to all the standard blue, red, blue, green metrics, right? The watermelon metrics, it's green until it's done until you cut in the middle and it's my God, we're late, right? And then you got, you got all the new agile metrics that you got to generate that, that, that all the executives don't know how to read, they don't understand it. They're like, what the heck is this? What is the burn down? What's, I don't know what that is. Just give me the, the, the standard K P I, I like those. What was your question? I, I went on a rant a little too long. I, if culture, how culture. Yeah. And so in a, in a, in a natural environment, the culture really doesn't change all that changes. Is this, this these new work work ways of working that are, that feels like more of an imposition than anything else. It's like people are asked to work in a new way without really understanding why they're doing that. And there's no real clear benefit to the organization, right? The the the work still works takes as long as it ever did, it's still the same number of defects because nothing's really changed except kind of rearrange the chairs on the, on the deck, you know. Yeah. So I was in your rant, I was gonna, my, the next thing I wanted to talk about was examples. But in your rant, you've already covered a couple. You know, I had an experience where I saw agile veneer and didn't really realize it was my first agile coaching job and I was brought in to help transform them, right? And I went in and I did my, did my bit and it was actually where I met my buddy, our buddy, Mike Jeer. And when I, you know, as it turned out, I left after a couple of years, Mike left a year and a half after I got there. So, and, you know, within six months of us leaving everybody that was working with us was back to the old way of working and, and it, it was pretty, I mean, and, and that was an example of veneer as soon as they peeled back, as soon as we were gone, that veneer was peeled back and they were back to, you know, using your example, they were back to particle board. Do you have a, do you have some examples? Right. Yeah. many you know, I won't mention any names but certainly organizations where I've worked where I've, where I, you know, it's, it's it's a little depressing actually that I can, I can count on one hand, a number of successful transformations. I've been a part of there's been many more unsuccessful transformations. So I think that in some ways we need to disrupt this whole transformation notion, disrupt it and think about how can we avoid a veneer, right? I mean, the one of the clients I'm supporting now, I feel like they're headed that way. You know, they're, they're, they're very focused on the, the nuts and bolts and making sure they do things right. And all of that. But at the end of the day, it's about what you deliver to the customer and, and how well you deliver it. And that's what agile is supposed to be about. It's supposed to be improving your ability, to respond to market changes, improving your ability to adapt and be agile and be nimble and, you know, the, the organizations that are, are engaged in what I call a veneer transformation. They may not realize it, but that's what it is. It's just, it's just a surface, it's a very shallow application of agile on some parts of the organization doesn't permeate to change really how the organization is structured. Ultimately, the successful transformations are those where the core structure of the organization changes in some meaningful way to allow learning to flow through the organization, to allow innovation, to flow through the organization, to to reduce the distance between the doers and the, and the leaders, right? So it, it, what what I mean by that is if, if I have a problem and I have to wait a month before I get approval to change something so that my problem goes away, that's a, that's a real issue. That's a real bottleneck. And so, and the reason is because there's a large distance between me and the person that makes the decision, it has to go through a chain all the way up and then has to go come down the chain all the way back down to me right where I can make that change. So we want to reduce that distance between the doers and the leaders so that decisions can be made fast. And I know we covered as another video right about I forget what, what we called it but you know, making moving the decisions to the people that are best equipped to make them, right? That should be a consequence of the natural transformation. But rarely is it part that would rarely, is it a consequence as part of a veneer transformation? Because again, it's only goes skin deep. So what are some steps? No, no, you're good. It's good. I just clicked a little bit quick. So what are some steps that we can take to prevent us from, you know, running into to where our organization is being agile veneer? Yeah, I, I think I think as coaches, as consultants, I think we need to be very mindful of the clients. We support that, that if and I it's hard to do this, of course, right? Because we're here to pay our bills and blah, blah, blah, all that stuff. But, but we, we need to be mindful that we advise our clients appropriately to say, hey, we're slipping into this dangerous territory of "veneerism" if, if that's a word and yeah, and, and that, yeah, and, and that, that we need your engagement as leaders to lead this transformation. We want to as coaches and consultants equip leaders to be better stewards of agile and agility in their organizations. And that means that means that they're gonna have to really pull up their, roll up their sleeves and work hard to do that. And so the first step in my opinion is identifying the leaders that will pull the transformation with them, right? It can't be a push transformation. It needs to be a pull transformation. So step one, identify those leaders, step two coach, those leaders and and help them to do the, you know, take the right steps, identify the right catalysts within the organization that will be that will, that will support a pole transformation and be before you do any sort of framework adoption or anything. Those, those two things need to happen. And interestingly, those two things and many more are part of our disruptor method. Shameless plug. That's what I was as you were going through it. It's like, all right, this is, this is very much aligned with our you know, with our our disruptor method, right? Either you're gonna either you're gonna be a disruptor or you're gonna get disrupted, right? And, and just going through and doing the steps of adopting a some kind of agile framework is not gonna be enough, right? You're gonna have to be able to, to be proficient at that tool and, and use it. And I think depending on what role you play if product owner or product manager, you know, in a, in a company, you know, it's important you are a product person that is to go below the surface and really examine what are the values that you're trying to promote here with your team, teams. Yeah. How can you get your teams closer to your customer so that they understand what it is your customer wants and needs. if you're a scrum master, same thing, it's, it's go, go below the, the, the surface and really help your team understand the importance and why you have, why you do these ceremonies. Why do you do a stand up? You know, it's about, it's about sharing knowledge more than it is about a status meeting. And so every role has a part to play in this, avoiding the veneer. It's good. Well, any closing thoughts from you, I mean, I could, I could rant all day about this. I, as you can tell I'm really passionate about this stuff, you know, and, and I really want, I really hope that, you know, at, at the work that we do as coaches for it to have meaning I wanna be able to walk away from a client knowing that they have gained the knowledge, the capabilities to be able to sustain their, their transformation, sustain it after we're gone. Right. Otherwise it's just like, you know, we coaches, we're like, like we're, we're the catalysts Right. We go into an organization when we pull on the organization, we stretch them out to where they're uncomfortable. But what happens when we leave just like a rubber band? If that, those practices aren't ingrained, like a rubber band, it's gonna snap back to where they were before. Right. And so we, we definitely wanna help our clients coach our clients to avoid that. Yeah. Good. All right. Well, with that, we'll go ahead and wrap it up. Thanks for watching everybody. We appreciate you. I hope, we appreciate you listening and, and paying attention. I hope that you enjoyed Kumar's rant as much as I did. And I hope you learned something out of us. Don't hesitate to reach out to us. Don't hesitate to reach out to us as a meridian. We love to talk about this stuff. So don't hesitate to reach out and we will see you on the, on the backside. Thanks. Thanks Chris. Take care. Bye bye bye bye.