I'm posting this video as a "must play" for all Agile transformation coaches in their coaching session with people who spent good numbers of years in their careers learning and mastering the traditional project management. Please invest some time in watching this video, I promise it will answer a lot of questions:
You will see that "unlearning" the mechanisms and behaviors we have learned long time ago and the things that we've been practicing for decades it's not easy at all. It takes a lot of effort and full focus to "unlearn" or push back the thing you have learned through your entire career just to make a room to learn something new, the new way of riding a bike.
As you will see in the video, the first reaction of the person was resistance: "There's no way this bike to be ridden as a regular bike, no way". This is the point where most Agile transformations are failing. Make sure that you, the transformation bike rider coaches are there to explain how the new bike works, what is the level of effort needed and encourage and support the experienced bike riders to keep trying to learn the new way. It will take time and effort, but it's definitely possible and you all know that!
The second important point in this video is that, while the grown person who learned to ride a bike decades ago needed 8 months to force his brain to forget how to ride a bike, it took just two weeks for the kid to learn to ride the new bike. BUT, the kid was not exposed to the traditional bike riding for a long time as the others. The kid was not distracted by how the bike should be ridden, "unlearned" the old way in no time and accepted the new behavior as a standard way of running the bike. A message for you, annoying Agile transformation leaders: Don't get discouraged if your execution teams adopt and start being Agile faster and quicker than the senior leadership. You are still doing the right thing, it's just the leadership that still have to put an effort in "unlearning" to ride the bike before they adopt the new mindset. Keep working on it and the sync between both levels will happen soon.
Weeks and month later, the people who spent the most time in unlearning to ride the bike the traditional way will start to make their baby steps in riding the Agile bike. You must admit, that is an awesome feeling!!! A sense of joy and success!!!
But (there is always "but"), if you watch the video to the end, you'll see that, after months of work, sweat, and tears to unlearn the old way of riding a bike and when you finally think that you are ready to ride your unique, super cool Agile bike. Then you make a mistake and just for a minute you try to ride your old traditional bike. Dang, you lost all your new skills and switched back in less than a minute! Was it worth it?
That leads us to the third, very important point. Again you, persistent and sometimes annoying Agile transformation coaches, please make sure you watch the people and the bikes they are riding. Please make sure that no one gets on the old bike, even for a second and help them utilize and see the benefits of riding the new way. Please help the people who put so much effort to "unlearn" the old way to stay Agile until Agility becomes part of their nature. Only then their Agile bikes will run straight and smooth as all others in the industry.