The Theory of Change & Why I Get In Trouble

organizational antibodies, agile, stock photo

As an agile coach that has been fortunate to work at a good number of clients over the years, you get an opportunity to experience some interesting similarities among clients. Some are tragic, some are funny and some are just downright intriguing. I recently spoke with another agile coach and I discovered one particular pattern that I have decided to refer to as organizational antibodies.

The talk in question was about the on boarding of coaches and things a coach tends to experience in the first few days on the ion. As we talked together and related our war stories I noticed that both of us had a something happen to both of us early in our engagements with companies. That common denominator was that both of us found ourselves in trouble with management in the new company within the first week or two of our gigs with our coaching ability or competence questioned or tested.

To hear that others shared my knack for getting into hot water early on was a relief to me. Of course, all of these early issues were resolved in short order, but it brought up a very interesting question of why this happened so frequently. As I look back on my personal experiences and after hearing the same from my colleague, a theory began to form in my mind. The end result is my Organizational Antibody Theory of Change.

The theory is this – there are many in any company who benefit from the status quo. Agile is about organizational change and those who prefer the status quo will find the agent of change as a threat to the corpus organizationus and will do their best to protect their system by attacking the agent of change. In other words, there are people in your company that perform the same role that antibodies provide in the human body.

At this point in my career I fully expect to have at least one of these reactions in every gig I start within the first couple of weeks. In the past it was quite disconcerting for me but now that I have experienced it and expect it, I worry less. The problem is always a tempest in a teapot, a minor annoyance that will fade away as my role is better understood and people realize that I am not a threat. Have you ever experienced organizational antibodies before?

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