13: Enterprise Agile Coach, Fadly Rasyad on Why Most Transformations Fail

Why Most Transformations Fail

Most organizations want to improve performance, but few succeed. In fact, research has shows that most transformations fail. Common reasons are a lack of leadership commitment, unrealistic goals, and resistance from employees. To succeed in your business transformation, you need a different strategy.

In episode 13 of Agile Leaders Conversations, hear Fadly Rasyad share his insights after being in the agile transformation for over 20 years. Discover the reason why most transformations fail and how to achieve a different outcome. As a seasons DevOps consultant and Enterprise Agile Coach, Fadly offers insider knowledge and hands-on wisdom that will be valuable to any business considering a transformation. We also discuss how leaders should and should not regard ‘people.’

Connect with Fadly at https://www.linkedin.com/in/frasyad/

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Fadly Rasyad: We have to have our own identity. We have to have our own objectives, our personal goals. And then from there only, we can actually build the identity that we want in order to fit into the system. So, it’s not the other way around that basically the system is going to fit into our identity.

Chuen Chuen Yeo: Welcome to agile leaders conversations where executives, business leaders and experts from all sectors come together and share leadership insights around leading in today’s workplaces. They will be sharing some valuable tips on how they use the agile mindset to make sense of the complexity and the authenticity and ease.

Chuen Chuen Yeo: Hi everyone. My name is Chuen Chuen, and I’m an executive coach from Singapore. And in this episode, I have the pleasure of speaking with Mr. Fadly Rasyad, Enterprise Agility coach and DevOps Consultant based in Singapore. Fadly has more than 20 years of experience coaching teams and organizations towards agility. Fadly, would you share a little about yourself please?

Fadly’s Early Exposure to Agility

Fadly Rasyad: Thank you, Chuen Chuen. Good morning. So basically, I’m one of the luckiest people because I was exposed to agile in the early 2000, when agile was actually starting to gain popularity. So what happened at that time, when I was starting to work with agile, it’s actually blowing up my mind because that’s totally something different that I have learned.

Fadly Rasyad: And the good thing about it is that, it’s actually giving me lots of opportunities to learn about something. The new ways of working whereby we actually work as a team and then really appreciate people. And whenever working with different teams and individuals, I always try to advocate agility on how we work towards our objectives. Be it a project or personal.

Fadly Rasyad: As an enterprise agile coach, I am also advocating this to senior leaders and other departments in my organization, so that we can have better ways of working, and then achieve a better outcomes.

Chuen Chuen Yeo: That’s great. I can really hear that Fadly, you are the advocate and I think enterprises these days need to seriously consider adopting the agile way of working. I don’t wanna say going agile because we know it may cause some problems when we say going agile. What does it really mean?

Fadly Rasyad: Yeah.

Chuen Chuen Yeo: So Fadly and I met at the panel discussion where we were talking about leadership agility. And then we went on to have more conversations on it. Fadly have also read my book. So I’m wondering, what are your thoughts of the book after reading it?

Fadly Rasyad: Thank you. I really like the book, first of all. When I picked up the book, I looked at the title, seems like this could be a heavy book. But then, it looks like this is actually quite easy to understand because in one sitting, you can go up to three chapters, so it’s very easy to understand. And it’s really good to learn about people’s paradoxes, on how people experience changing from one mindset to another. In fact, it’s something that also related with me, because I know that when agile is totally different perspective that people has to change, but unfortunately there are not many resources out there for people to try on the journey to agility. So, reading this book refresh my mindset and helps me, looking back how the journey for me at that time. So yeah, it was a good book actually.

Chuen Chuen Yeo: Thank you so much. Your comment is definitely consistent with what most readers say, it’s easy to read. Someone even said he finished the entire book in one sitting. And I think the stories are definitely relatable. And from what I’m hearing from you, it actually tells you what are the possible sticky points that may happen in an agile transformation journey, because it is all about people. How people respond to it.

Chuen Chuen Yeo: You’re right. Yeah.

Chuen Chuen Yeo: That’s excellent. In the book there are eight paradoxes, so I’m wondering, was there one that particularly resonated with you?

 Self vs System: Fadly’s Paradox

Fadly Rasyad: Actually, there are many. But if I have to choose, it’s actually this chapter self vs system. Why I like that chapter? During my journey toward agility, I was so focused on doing things.

Fadly Rasyad: I was workaholic. Very workaholic, so I lose my self identity on who am I? There was one day I stumble into reflection on myself that I realized, “what am I doing?” Why I kept doing this? Who am I?

Fadly Rasyad: From that self-reflection I realized, we have to have our own identity. We have to have our own objectives, our personal goals. From there, we can actually build the identity that we want in order to fit into the system. It’s not the other way around that basically the system is going to fit into our identity. I realized that I have to change my mindset. I have to back, and then reframe what I want to achieve in life. And then I realize one thing, our life is short, so we have a very limited time to achieve our dreams or goals.

Fadly Rasyad: So, if you don’t really stop and look at what we are going to achieve and build our identity, it’s going to be very tough to move forward. It’s very important for me personally, so that I can actually have a more enjoyable journey towards what I want to achieve in the future.

Chuen Chuen Yeo: Thank you so much. So many good things that you shared. A few things that jumped out at me, one was that we have limited time. Everyone is mortal. That’s my understanding. I didn’t realize that until I was in my mid-thirties, because there was some health hiccup. That really made me realize that we have limited time. It means that to pursue our dreams, we have that amount of time only, so don’t waste time. That’s usually what I advise people.

Chuen Chuen Yeo: And another thing that was great, which I really liked was that the answer actually within. And very aligned with the coaching principle too. Greatness is in us. However, what most people do is go out and try to look for the answer, but actually it should be the inner journey that will really help us.

Fadly Rasyad: Exactly.

Chuen Chuen Yeo: And the third one you said, which was excellent as well, the system is not gonna change for you. It’s more discerning to know whether this system is gonna work for you. And to be able to do that, the first thing is know yourself. That’s excellent.

Chuen Chuen Yeo: And I’m happy to see that we have this alignment because my entire leadership development program is based on starting with yourself first. Do that inner work properly. Know your values. Know what’s important to you. Then you will know very well how to be agile, how to shift your mindset, and what you can or cannot shift into.

Chuen Chuen Yeo: This definition of leadership agility in the book I’ve intentionally kept it simple just about being able to flexibly navigate complexities, uncertainties, and most importantly, with that sense of authenticity and ease. From your perspective, how do you see it?

Fadly Rasyad: So, it resonated with me when I read that because as leaders we have a very important position especially if we are leading a team or an organization. If we ourself don’t accept the reality as it is, then it’s gonna be difficult for us to convince our teams that this is the reality.

Fadly Rasyad: Nobody imagined that COVID 19 is going to hit us. So if we don’t realize the reality, then it’s going to be very tough to navigate our way towards what we want to achieve.

The 3 As in our Career Life: Accept, Adapt and Achieve

Fadly Rasyad: One thing I wanted to share is actually my personal experience is that, naturally when we are still young that time we like always hearing the stories from our seniors, from our grand or grandmas. They say that life is unpredictable. You just try to enjoy yourself first.

Fadly Rasyad:  If you can’t accept the reality that things are going to change, then you are going to suffer. You won’t be able to enjoy yourself. I remember a message from the ex CEO of Prudential. He said that our career life, there is actually three A’s. Three A means, Accept, Adapt, and Achieve. Then, I was asking what these means. He explained to us that Accept here means that you have to accept the situation. You have to accept the reality.

Fadly Rasyad: If you cannot accept the reality or the situation, you are gonna end up hurting yourself, your moral, and your health. So that’s why many people have health problems because they cannot accept the reality.

Fadly Rasyad: This is actually the first, but the hardest part in our career life, or even in our life itself. Only once you can accept this reality. This is the COVID 19 reality for example, that you will be able to find a way to adapt. Because of the COVID 19, this is the new norms. So find ways to adapt. Only after you adapt, you can go to the next stage, which is achieve what is your dream.

Fadly Rasyad: Once you go to that level. You achieve your goals, then of course it goes back to the next to previous stage. You have to accept again new reality. For example if it’s we talk about promotion, you achieve, you get a new promotion, and then after that you, it comes with new responsibilities. It becomes a new reality for you. Do you accept the new reality or not?

Fadly Rasyad: So if you don’t accept, then it’s gonna be difficult for you to go to the next journey. So leadership agility here to me, it’s actually applicable to anyone. Although it’s very good for leaders because they are actually responsible for their teams. And then they’re actually where people are looked up to.

Fadly Rasyad: So by having this kind of mindset, then it’ll help organizations or teams towards transition and transformation of agility. It’s always more effective looking at the top. Leading by example, then the followers will relatively adopt the the same mindset.

Chuen Chuen Yeo: Accept, adapt, achieve. Very wise words, especially the accepting part. I crack this joke with one of my clients the other day. Curiosity kills the cat, but expectations kills us. Some expectations that people are going to be exactly the same as us. Having that expectation is going to mess us up badly, and very consistent. Sometimes, when I work with leaders they say, “why can’t my team just see my point of view?”

Chuen Chuen Yeo: Yeah. How about we accept? Let’s accept that whatever you say, whatever you do, there will be a different opinion.

Fadly Rasyad: Yes, exactly.

Chuen Chuen Yeo: And if you accept it, what’s gonna happen. What will we do then instead of asking why and feeling that it is unfair, feeling frustrated. Why don’t we spend the energy to think about how can we get them to see the same picture?

Fadly Rasyad: Yeah. Exactly, exactly. So it was really a powerful message from our ex CEO last time. And it was actually many years back, and I still remember this very deeply.

Chuen Chuen Yeo: Yes. So the kind of impact that these three words have on you, and how it is even in everyday life. Yeah. I also like what you said, leadership agility is for everyone. Even for individual contributors. A lot of individual contributors think that they don’t have to bother about leadership. However, that’s not true, because we have to lead ourselves.

Fadly Rasyad: Yeah, exactly.

Chuen Chuen Yeo: That’s awesome.

Fadly Rasyad: At least we have family to lead.

Chuen Chuen Yeo: Oh, yes. I think everyone is motivated in the same way. We all want better health, more wealth, and better relationships. We all want these three things and accepting adapting, and ultimately achieving will help us get there.

Chuen Chuen Yeo: It starts in the mindset. So, I would like to ask you this next question then. How do you use leadership agility or any of the three A’s to influence stakeholders and lead, especially agile transformations within your organization?

People are not Resources nor Assests. People are People

Fadly Rasyad: All right. Basically, I always tell this to to everyone. Especially if people are still mentioning that people are resources. People are not resources. People are not assets. People are people. So let’s look at it this way. The assets means that there is a depreciation over time. The value will depreciated, but people is different. The longer they stay in the company, the value that they bring to the company or to the organization is getting more and more.

Fadly Rasyad: So they’re not assets. When I explain this when we talk about agile transformation, I explain to them that people are like that. So what does agility mean here is that we have to respect our people. By having respect to them by really appreciating them, we have achieved one of the very first goal of agile transition and transformation, which is increase people’s engagement in your team. So what’s next then after we share to people change their mindset. And then they’re getting more engaged. They’re starting up to open up to us. So what’s next is that eventually, they’re going to take care of our customers. So when the employees or the staffs are becoming highly engaged, eventually they’ll become more productive. And they’re going to take care of our customers, which is actually the next goal of agile transition and transformation.

Fadly Rasyad: Instead of thinking so much about shareholder value from the beginning, we actually focus on our staff who are going to take care of customers. And then our customers are going to take care of our shareholder values.

Fadly Rasyad: So these are the sequence. The first thing is that to make agile transformation successful is to increase the engagement of the people. How we do that. We have to let people know that we care about them. We respect them. Agile is about people. Once we are setting this correct- The foundation is the people. The next objective, increased customer satisfaction and maximum shareholder value will be then achieved.

Fadly Rasyad: The sequence is important, that’s why many agile transition and transformation fails because the sequence is not right. Normally they do recognize that people are important, but unfortunately, they don’t put people as number one. They put people maybe number three or number four, maybe number 10.

Fadly Rasyad: So the number one, maybe customer satisfaction or shareholder value first. But, when we talk about agile, it’s not about platforms. Tools and platforms can help, but they’re not the foundation. The foundation is the people, their mindset. The way they relate to each other. The way they behave to each other. What are the values or the ethics that they bring into the teams or into the organizations by having all of these foundations set.

Fadly Rasyad: Then you can go up to the next layer. For example, framework, tools, platforms, et cetera. This is actually where I kept explaining to people or to organizations that going through agile, transition and transformation that set the foundation right. Don’t focus so much on tools like DevOps. Don’t focus so much on framework, like scrum. Focus more on the values. The mindset of agility itself.

Chuen Chuen Yeo: Very good. I like this so much. I want to clap.

Fadly Rasyad: Thank you. Thank you so much.

Chuen Chuen Yeo: I was giggling and chuckling for myself when you said people to not resources, not assets. They’re not a number. And I was like going to celebrate when you said, the longer a person has been with an organization, the more valuable they should be .

Fadly Rasyad: Yes, exactly.

Chuen Chuen Yeo: This was exactly what I was telling one of my managers earlier. I said, you cannot replace an experienced team member with somebody else who is just fresh out school with zero experience because it is the organization knowledge and the culture.

Fadly Rasyad: Yes.

Chuen Chuen Yeo: And to summarize what you said, I really resonate with it. People are our greatest enabler. Any organization, right? And yes, you are right. 70% of transformations fail because they were focused on looking at other things. They know that people are important.

Chuen Chuen Yeo: A lot of that actually say that they respect people. However, the behavior shows otherwise. I think exactly what you said as well. You influence people through your behavior, not by the words. 

Fadly Rasyad: Yes.

Chuen Chuen Yeo: There was an incident where I spoke with a very senior C level leader and he said, “I really care about my staff. I wanna develop them. So I would like you to coach one of my staff. I really want to help her grow.” And then I paused and I asked, “you said that you care very much about this person, but never have I once heard that you asking your staff what does he or she wants.”

Chuen Chuen Yeo: And then he stopped. “Oh yeah. So yeah. Why didn’t I think of that?” Even understanding and fully appreciating, what does value, respect really look like, sound like, feel like? People think that they respect others, however, their behaviors show otherwise.

Fadly Rasyad: Yeah. So it’s not a lip service, basically.

Chuen Chuen Yeo: Of course we give our best intentions. We wanna grow somebody, but it will make a lot of difference if we shifted to unconditional positive regard.

Fadly Rasyad: Yes, you’re right.

Chuen Chuen Yeo: That’s the highest form of respect where any decisions I’m going to make you are at the center of my decision making process. Like what Tony Robin said, the little steps are not little at all.

Fadly Rasyad: Yes.

Chuen Chuen Yeo: Yeah. Awesome! So, to round out our conversation, I think Fadly, you have so much experience, so what’s your advice to all coaches and practitioners out there?

Fadly Rasyad: I want to repeat my first statement earlier because if hear the word agile, the very first thing comes to my mind is that life is short. So let’s focus on what are important in our life. You don’t have to apply agility just for your organization, your teams. Apply to yourself.

Fadly Rasyad: I myself have my own backlog on what I want to do. So, I put clear focus on what I want to achieve because I know that I have responsibilities not only to myself. My organization. My family. And again, life is short, nobody knows what’s gonna happen next. We cannot predict the future. So let’s enjoy what we have and then focus on what are important.

Chuen Chuen Yeo: Very good. Very it’s simple. It sounds very simple, but it’s not easy to do.

Fadly Rasyad: It’s not.

Chuen Chuen Yeo: Focus on what is important. At least focus on something. If you focus on everything, you focus on nothing.

Fadly Rasyad: Yeah.

Chuen Chuen Yeo: Wow! It’s good to connect with you and have this conversation. I’m sure many of the viewers are interested to get in touch with Fadly, and to tap on his vast experience in agile transformation, I will put Fadly’s LinkedIn handle in this post, and let’s carry on a conversation another time. Looking forward to meeting you in person.

Fadly Rasyad: Thank you so much Chuen Chuen. Likewise.

Chuen Chuen Yeo: All right. Thank you so much.

Fadly Rasyad: Thank you.

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