Why you need an Internal, Permanent Leadership Lab

I facilitate our internal 3 day workshop on Agile Leadership (Servant Leadership based in Roger Schwartz’s book, The Skilled Facilitator ). For one of our bigger programs (around 200 people and about 12 feature teams), I am a permanent fixture with a permanent, dedicated space. We do the training at work which has raised some concerns – surely training should be an event, something special that is done outside the office ? To which I tend to look confused.

“Don’t we value learning ? ”

Which is when they look confused. So I keep going, “If we valued learning, then wouldn’t learning be something that was part of our everyday, something that we could easily access ? ”

Their response tends to be along the lines of “But my Scrum Master/ team members/ boss can see me here and they want me to come and do work”

An interesting response don’t you think ? I always answer with a request, “Please ask them to honour and respect the training that you are on. Your executive and leadyvalued this enough to sacrifice 3 days of your cap toy so you could be here. When you mix that with work, you are compromising both your work and the time that has been set aside for this leaning. If you were offsite would you be expected to spend your ‘free’ time working ? Would you go back to work when we finish ‘early’? No? Then why do it now ?”

This whole conversation was a surprise for me. I knew that I saw learning differently but I didn’t really see how corporates separate learning from what they do! Learning isn’t actually valued because if it was, capacity would be set aside for it.

When you have an internal, dedicated capacity and space for learning and learning about agile leadership, you send a message around what you value as a team! You also create a space that individuals can access as they need to, for continued learning! What your create is the opportunity to live what the training offers, to embed it and so create real change.

Focusing on the mindsets and behavior changes is especially I,portent when you are shifting from an old, project based system entrenched in a unilateral control hierarchy, to a Agile based system where decision making is consciously decentralised and teams are expected to show up as autonomous and self-organizing. This isn’t just a new process you are asking people to apply! You are asking them to change how they see the world and themselves! You are asking them to change what they expect from leaders and team members and unless you focus on this new behavior, all you are giving them to support this change is a process.

Changing the process isn’t enough to change the way people use the process and to change how people use a process takes time and constant practice – which is where the leadership lab concept fits in.

Or you could just send everyone on external Agile training and wonder why when they come back they don’t seem to be using what they learnt!