Some customer organizations are light on process and just want the results. These types typically don’t have objection to Agile, especially if you only start with Kanban initially.

Some organizations are process heavy and document-centric for planning and artifacts. These types of organizations may resist Lean-Agile initially because it threatens to change their well-practiced processes.

Convincing an organization to trust you using Lean-Agile is a selling role. You are trying to influence a decision. Part of it is being trustworthy. If the customer has no experience with Lean-Agile and you’re asking them to step out on a limb with you, they have to assess how much risk they think they are taking on to do so.

There are benefits for them. You can introduce them. Some people are attracted to benefits and will move towards something. Lean-Agile also reduces risks.

Some people prefer to avoid and move away from something rather than to go towards something. These folks are easier persuaded by pointing out how they can avoid pain points.

  • We have described or shown buyer stakeholders a picture of the first time the two railroads met in the western United States, and asking what would have happened if the two tracks did not meet as expected. This is a helpful mental image of risk.

train track
Figure 1. Risk of Not Staying Aligned

This mental image helps get across that we’re talking about how to succeed in the face of various risks to the project.

Agile helps reduce the chances of that happening by offering more opportunities to inspect and review our progress. Lean-Agile also provides those opportunities earlier in the process than traditional methods of batching at the lesson level or even batching at the entire course level. By seeing courseware increments that work every two weeks, the customer gets to regularly see for themselves if we’re on track for them. They also get to see how responsive we are to corrections if they feel we are off track.

There may be social structures in the organizations that are hard to modify. If you can join your customer contact in meeting directly to influence other decision makers or influencers, you may be more successful than trying to arm your contact to wage this influence battle alone in their internal structure. If they are still new to Lean-Agile, they will not feel comfortable addressing specific objections that resisters of change may put forward.

If you know the reasons well, and you are persuasive, you can listen for the real drivers of why they don’t want to change and attempt to earn your way into a hearing.

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