Jan Otterbach, Vice President and Business Agility Lead at Elavon Europe / US Bank
- 🌎 Jan on LinkedIn
- 📄 Business Agility Institute – Overview of Domains of Business Agility & Associated Behaviours
- ▶️ Agile Business Awards - Elavon Europe - It's not about Agile
About this podcast episode
🎙️ Focus 🧘, Customer 🧍, and Collaboration 🤝 are major drivers for success in Elavon / US Bank’s shift to Agility
In today’s podcast, Jan Otterbach talks about the importance of behavioral change when adopting agile principles.
Working at Elavon Europe / US Bank, Jan’s team focuses on behavioral change, thinking about new ways to work, and building teams from a place of trust and psychological safety. All that has paid off by adding value for the bank and being recognized with a prestigious Agile Business Consortium 🏆 award.
Sharing real-world examples, Jan Otterbach and Bill Raymond discuss the real potential of agile, including organizational units outside the traditional software development roles.
In this podcast, you will learn the following:
✅ Why Elavon Europe / US Bank is making the shift to agile
✅ How they started their journey and where we are today
✅ How they successfully delivered value to their vendors in record time
🎉 The three behaviors they focus on every day (and believe you should too)
(transcripts are auto-generated, so please excuse the brevity)
[00:00:00] Podcast intro clip
[00:00:00] Jan Otterbach: You’ve mentioned that, behaviors are probably some of the most important elements that you’ve learned along the way. So for me,I’ve at some stage realized it’s not about, Agile, as in just rolling out ways of working for ways of working safe. But the behaviors that we want to see is increased focus, so trying to do less tasks at once and finishing some. Really getting closer to our customers and listening to them and collaborating.
So focus customer collaboration has been my mantra. There’s post-its on my screen in the office. three of them, three words on them. Focus, customer collaboration. that’s my thing for this entire year.
[00:00:35] Speaker: Welcome to the Agile in Action Podcast with Bill Raymond. Bill will explore how business disruptors are adopting agile techniques to gain a competitive advantage in this fast-paced technology driven market.
[00:00:47] Bill Raymond: Hi, and welcome to the podcast. Today I’m joined by Jan Otterbach, Vice President and Business Agility Lead at Elavon Europe. Hi, Jan. How are you today?
[00:00:57] Jan Otterbach: Doing great. How are you?
[00:00:58] Bill Raymond: I’m doing great. Thank you. I’m excited about the conversation.
Today, we’re going to talk about behavioral change and how that is the heart of agile change. But before we get started, could you introduce yourself please?
[00:01:10] Jan Otterbach: Sure. So I’m business agility lead for Elavon Europe and we’re part of uS Bank, which to our American listeners here will be a household name, to, to those in other parts of the world, so it’s a huge American bank in around 70,000 people working for it. And we’re basically the European card payments.
so if you have a flower shop and you have a card machine, or if you want to take payments on your website, that’s what we do. And because we’re in payments, everything’s automated. And technology’s changing rapidly, and we need to move with customer demand real quick. So, agility and being responsive, listening to customers matters a lot in our industry.
that’s me and that’s us.
[00:01:49] Bill Raymond: Before we get started, I know you joined Elavon doing one thing and then you moved into this current role. Uh, be interesting to get a little bit of a picture of the history that you’ve had at the company.
[00:02:02] Jan Otterbach: Yes, and I’m probably quite the unlikely agile coach in that, for the last decade before coming an Agile coach, about a year and a bit ago, I, was working in technology audit and risk management and, even before joining Elavon, I was a technology auditor in Colton with kpmg, first in Germany, then in Ireland, and it was always focused on.
Technology change risk compliance. And that’s then basically what I picked up at Elavon as well. I was taking care of technology audits, looking at technology risk. And obviously in a business where people are not leaving parking garages, if our business doesn’t work, nor buying anything in shops, these tech risks matter a whole lot.
So I would’ve been working on our technology function for four years before switching over about a year and a half ago to becoming an agile coach, which in fairness, at the time, I didn’t really know what that was. I got hired anyways lucky me. And, I’ve been having an awesome time since.
I have this 15 second loop in my head in terms of does this make sense to me? And if it doesn’t, I’ll ask a question, I’ll challenge.
I’m al always on and always listening, paying attention. And what I enjoyed about, risk manager doing that was pulling together cross-functional teams and working on something with urgency. That sounds like an essence of agile as well. And, at some stage, and that this happened before I knew really what I was doing.
I was probably the only risk manager in the bank with a Kanban board managing risks. all of this makes, makes sense in hence sense in hindsight. But,that, that’s the essence of me. It’s the auditor turned agile coach and, yeah, been having a great time, but I can also see how the muscles for my past really helped me doing what I do today.
[00:03:43] Bill Raymond: Yeah, that actually rings true for some of my career as well. I remember when I was growing up, I wanted to be a software developer, and I go,I don’t think I’ve ever told this story on the podcast. My very first technology job, I opened up the Yellow Pages and started going through it said Technology companies under T and so I went through and I got to the letter I and that the company started with an I.
I called up and asked if they needed someone to be a software developer, and they said, sure, come on in and let’s talk. And it turns out that,they got me started right away. I started to learn a lot, but one of the things that I did was I put up this big, Chart a project schedule, and I would print that out to show what we were working on and what we’re delivering.
And the software development team liked the fact that I was able to communicate with marketing and sales about what was going on So I naturally shifted over to that of a role of a leader as opposed to that of a role of a software developer. And we all got along really well with that, but I can hear why you, would like to shift your roles and how you can use your existing skills in order to change a little bit.
[00:04:53] Jan Otterbach: A Absolutely. and. This lens of focusing on how we work, it’s been so much fun. my, my job used to be analyzing hugely complex automated processes and computer systems and, easily, looking at a complex adapter system of humans beats that by a country mile. But it’s a good starting base for getting be thrown onto that kind of task.
[00:05:14] Bill Raymond: You explained a little bit about why you changed, but it sounds like the organization was changing as well.
[00:05:19] Jan Otterbach: Yes, and as an organization we were basically,so one of the key triggers,was Covid and the impact it was having on our business. We were very strong in industries that were hugely impacted, in terms of taking payments in those industries. And ba basically it put a question mark and a pause on some things and a chance to look at things really as an overall business.
And we were noticing that, We were not making as much money from the new products we were launching. We were, also shifting for the entire 70,000 people bank towards a more product management product model and rolling out agile ways of working and what we then did in Europe. And that’s what makes me.
Probably relatively unique in the 70,000 people bank is that I’m an agile coach, but I don’t work in a product function. I don’t work in technology. I coach cross-functional business teams. And,that’s what we really saw in Europe is that I have great partners in, in, in the product and technology culture, agile coaching team that I work with.
But in, in what I do, in acting as a. Let’s call it business side. it hurts a little to say that way, but call it business side agile coach and enterprise agile coach for Europe. I’m relatively unique and, it’s been a great mix and a great partnership with, the more tech team or oriented agile coaches.
And that’s really what’s lifted our ways of working in Europe to, to the next level. what I do day-today is taking the enterprise lens a little bit, but basically, With the situation of we really need to change. one of the things we did, and that sounds relatively obvious, but we put cross-functional teams on our most important strategic priorities, and we did that as cross-functional teams, and that too sounds obvious. You have that in every project, but what we, what you did different this here was that we actually got them working in scrum adjacent agile ways of working. And that really turned out great. It led to great team spirit, led to a dynamic because Agile doesn’t just work for tech teams and developers.
This really works for those mixed marketing product techy people. Teams around the strategic priorities that we had and that’s where it really took off. But coaching those teams,that’s my key part of my role.
[00:07:20] Bill Raymond: I actually think it’s, okay to be saying the business side versus the technical side because I do think that there is some sort of a gap. Sometimes where we say that, we’re doing agile, and that somehow means that you need to be a software development team.
It doesn’t even necessarily mean you need to adopt a framework. You’ve mentioned Scrum, there’s plenty of ways that you can adopt agility and improve teams. And sometimes I think when we say the word agility, people immediately think, oh, that’s for software developers.
[00:07:51] Jan Otterbach: I can see that in, in our, a big technology organization as well. I mean, with hundreds of developers only for Europe and then thousands in the bank overall. And of course they work in Jira. Of course they work in very structured and very disciplined large process that’s completely appropriate for that environment.
But, um, those agile teams, I’m looking after the smaller cross-functional teams pointing at this pointed strategic priorities. We’ve kept it really simple. So we did not move into Jira, at least not yet. We’ve been using Microsoft Planner, which is bare bones, Kanban Board integrated with Outlook.
We’ve just kept it really simple. No velocity, no sizing, just focusing on the flow of work and really, questioning how we work. And I say scrum, but it’s scrum adjacent. What works well for us is this emphasis on creating stakes on the ground of this two week sprint period that we have.
And then, the biggest difference I think we made in, when compared to project teams that, that work on bigger priority topics. Is that we create a real culture around our sprint reviews and the culture of a sprint review is that you actually put the real work from the team on the table after two weeks, and the leaders are there.
Everyone’s there, and we actually have a genuine conversation about it and how we create momentum. And that’s very different from the PowerPoint, red, amber, green status updates. That culture I’m super proud of and I think that’s the first shift in making a bigger difference in, in getting really real about what work outputs can look like and how we can have conversations that really are actionable and accelerate delivery.
[00:09:15] Bill Raymond: When did you start this role?
[00:09:17] Jan Otterbach: That was up in February, 2022, so in and around a year and a half ago.
[00:09:21] Bill Raymond: So a year and a half ago, we wanna talk about behavioral change, but I’d love to hear about some of the initial ways that you got started doing this. This is fairly new to you, as you said. So what are some of the things that you tried along the way and what got you to where you are today?
[00:09:37] Jan Otterbach: One of the big things we did was be before Christmas, we were basically looking back at a year’s worth of change and we were doing a 6,000 word submission to the Agile Business Consortium for hopefully winning an award, which we then win. Did win. Yay. but we had. An easy time writing 6,000 words of how we changed how we work and positive stories around it.
And we had a bit of a fun and fancy stage for six months. so not everything that I’m listing out now, lasted, but it was certainly worth trying. And one of the things that we did, for instance, was having a governance meeting, but solely focused on how we work. We created level playing field with a virtual whiteboard.
And we ran a governance meeting, in just about the form of a workshop almost. And that worked out well. we, we did one every month or so for a while and it was always supposed to be a temporary format and we put senior leaders in the room and team members with it, and had a very level playing field and the world should whiteboard, everyone could put their post-its on, and then we were debating them together and within one or two sessions we had everyone on the same page as to what the key challenges were in terms of the behaviors that we needed to change. In fact, I only needed to look back at, at what we did in April over a year ago, and the key challenges that are on that board to an extent remain the key challenges that we’re facing today because understanding what your challenges are versus really producing behavioral change way different game.
But at least having everyone on the same page and realizing these are our challenges. From the senior leader to the team member, having a psychologically safe conversation and creating that space, that was huge. And we created that by the level playing field, the governance around the how.
And, really focusing on questions that we were asking and, that worked really well for us.
[00:11:21] Bill Raymond: You’ve mentioned that, behaviors are probably some of the most important elements that you’ve learned along the way. Can you share what those behaviors are before we get into them?
[00:11:32] Jan Otterbach: So for me,I’ve at some stage realized it’s not about, Agile, as in just rolling out ways of working for ways of working safe. But the behaviors that we want to see is increased focus, so trying to do less tasks at once and finishing some. Really getting closer to our customers and listening to them and collaborating.
So focus customer collaboration has been my mantra. There’s post-its on my screen in the office. three of them, three words on them. Focus, customer collaboration. that’s my thing for this entire year.
[00:12:00] Bill Raymond: We call this the Agile In Action Podcast. We talk about how to, implement Scrum or how to implement some other framework.
But the bulk of the conversations are around team safety. As you mentioned, psychological safety. We talk about how we can better. work with our own team members and collaborate, and it really is the human focus side of things. So I think that actually is a good way to get started. So let’s talk about the first behavior, which is focus.
Can you share with us what you mean by that in your context?
[00:12:32] Jan Otterbach: So let’s take the teams that were focused on the strategic priorities, and initially, those teams focused on absolutely anything they wanted to with a lot of liberty, but basically created a playground and sandpit that was the size of a beach. We’ve since narrowed it down, but one, one specific example, for instance, is that, we as Avon have lots of partner organizations that we work with.
We’re integrated from a technology perspective. They have a sellout product, whatever it is. and we wanted to have a partner portal where they could centrally come to one single place. We had some stage realized that there was more than half a dozen places as needed to go to, and we wanted to have them come to a single place and pick up all the marketing materials, training materials, reports that they needed.
And, we’d assessed it and, thought it was an 18 month project. And, then, drum roll in comes some agile sleeves up magic. in that we actually connected our business scrum team with one of our, tech techie scrum teams. And, this is for really then Spark, spark started to fly in that, our business team really clearly, we put them into the same room and the business team really clearly
explained what was needed and walked away with a clear understanding what was possible from a technology perspective. The technology team very clearly understood what was needed from a business perspective, but was able to bring to the party that actually most of the pipework we needed to stand up
our partner portal already existed in the system. and 18 months turned into six weeks of having a minimum viable thing live and in the hands of the first partner. And good thing we did that because, our partner didn’t really love the partner portal that we put in front of him as much as we did, provided feedback.
Another 10, 12 weeks later, we had a just about final but still iterating partner portal product, in a quarter, not in a year and a half. And, it’s really that, really putting those psychologists, yourself, collaborating teams together that produce this moment of magic. But both teams were focusing on only one thing.
Sparks started to fly and we really got through things. we’ve pushed the teams since and actually restructured the entire structure of the teams to only be about one topic. There’s still always go enough going on in one of the bigger strategic topics, but we basically reduce the sandboxes the size of a beach down to those of a football pitch.
There’s still enough place to, to play and be free, but it’s much less, easy to lose focus and yeah, that, that’s the focus story and I can only advise less is more.
[00:14:50] Bill Raymond: Yeah, it’s, that’s so amazing that you were able to start delivering so quickly and I think a key message that you provided there was you didn’t lose focus of working with your partner as well to make sure that what you were developing was going to meet their needs.
[00:15:06] Jan Otterbach: Yes. And we actually brought on one, then brought on a handful, and then started watching the statistics of data to see where people were going on the portal and, It really talking to our customers, and talking to them in an open, vulnerable way was a behavioral shift as well. But because our partners effectively are, similar to our customers in many respects, they’re external to organization,they matter to a business success.
So that level of openness and experimenting with them, that was a big step for us to take in terms of ways of working too.
And it was so successful. It sounds like you made some change. What did that look like in terms of making the change to focus the teams? You said that maybe they had a playground, the size of a beach and now it’s I’m sorry, what’d you say? A football pitch. Yes. Just about. Yes. the beach looked, like follows. We had one, one of our three teams that we started with was a digital transformation team. Wow. a dozen people taking care of digital transformation and organization like ours. That, that was never going to be f fully possible, but that, that, that team picked topics moved.
Things was positive impact. But, what we’ve changed now is that we’ve actually been working with our leadership to define a handful of priority topics and build teams around them, that, that lasts for a year, maybe longer, where people rotate in and out. But we’re spreading the agile ways of working mindset and, practical collaboration through the business that way that we’re rotating people in and out of, a handful of teams at this point.
[00:16:25] Bill Raymond: And how are the teams accepting that?
[00:16:27] Jan Otterbach: That’s working relatively well. But many of the members are part-timers and, one of the biggest challenge remains that, and that’s the same for any project or work or other initiative. It’s. There, there’s conflict with, B A U line management and, B A U job and who do I make happy the strategic priority or my boss or both
and navigating through that friction,is not a once off effort, but it’s continued to be one of our biggest challenges doing that. And it’s a lot about relationships and communication.
[00:16:57] Bill Raymond: Now let’s move on to the customer area. Could you share a little bit about what you mean by that?
[00:17:02] Jan Otterbach: Yeah. it’s just listening to our customers as an organization and,the original example I was giving to people for this was me actually going on a website, buying a cart machine, and completely losing it after about half an hour and then not succeeding buying it.
But in, in telling that story over and over again, I realized I wasn’t really taking this far enough. Felt a bit of a hypocrite. So what I’ve been doing since is what I’ve been calling my customer Safari, because to me it’s not enough to. For us coaches to say, we need team, you need to be more customer oriented.
I felt I needed to go out and listen to our customers ourselves. So I’ve been putting myself with, our customer service team, listening to customer service calls. I’ve been with our fraud team, our sales team, and really listening to our customers firsthand and doing that for one, I’m learning something different every time, sitting with a, with a, with a customer facing team.
But in, in doing that, I can much more credibly coach, teams to,to go and listen to our customer because I just know how I know the people, I know how accessible it is, and I also know how value it is. So for instance, within 15 minutes of listening to customer service, We ran into an unhappy customer and it clearly showed that one, one of our very key strategic projects actually wasn’t, yes
had ticked lots of boxes in terms of what we’d done, but hadn’t really solved for the customer experience problem that we’re looking to solve for. And if we’d only listen more to our customers and, me doing it, me getting on my little customer safari, getting out there and still not done. Dozen teams and really has opened the doors for other people to follow my path and listen, and teams to follow my path and listen, but also to get into a culture of just learning more and process of more, learning more from our customers.
[00:18:37] Bill Raymond: It sounds like what you’re finding is that, in some cases when we think we’ve solved a problem, when we think we’ve addressed it and we’re feeling good about ourselves, there could still be a lot more going on in the background that we still have to keep an eye on with our customer.
[00:18:51] Jan Otterbach: And it’s, there’s a very basic truth and mantra that’s worth repeating to the teams that I work with, is it’s only real when it’s in the hands of our customers. So we tend to analyze a lot. We prioritize, we design, but it only produces a real world result once it’s out there and, focusing on the good enough and just getting it out of the door.
That’s not just for development teams. That’s, that’s for everyone. So it’s only real when it’s in the hands of customers.
[00:19:16] Bill Raymond: So how do you create a better feedback loop for the customer?
[00:19:20] Jan Otterbach: Yeah,in many cases we can’t just pick up the phone and call again. In fact, the guy that called in the call center, I wish I could have just picked up the phone and told him that I’m playing his phone call to our senior leaders. But, for us, it’s much about getting into discipline, of looking at data and really finding the right data points and seeing if we can make the needles move.
We’ve moved from output to outcome, at least in some parts. a and we were really trying to find the right needles to that we want to see moving and investigate if they don’t. So it’s very evidenced based and. That works for the bigger, more smaller businesses that we have on mass.
But then when it comes to the bigger relationships, as I was talking to one of our partner organizations there earlier, it’s really picking up the phone and asking, so it’s less about the survey. We’ve implemented a few of those, but it’s really getting brave at just picking up the phone and asking, and number one recommendation to do even maybe to the smaller customers.
[00:20:09] Bill Raymond: It is interesting. no one wants to make a customer service phone call first of all, we all know that, right? no one wants to say, oh, I have to pick up the phone, and I’m so excited to, to call customer service even if the people at the other end are nice
people that will help them get things done. But it always says this phone call may be recorded or other people might be listening. And I always hoped that people were listening in the background and hearing what is happening. Because sometimes, the experience isn’t ideal.
And I remembered at one point I was working with, it was a fairly large software company everyone would know who they are and I had to place a customer service phone call, because we had a issue with one of our systems that was down. And it just felt like we were getting treated a little like it was, not important,
it felt yeah. Okay. I know you probably have millions of customers and everyone has an important phone call, but we have a production level system down situation, and I didn’t feel like we’re getting the, right response that we got and the person just said, oh, can you hold on a second, put me on hold.
And, then all of a sudden, ah, he asked, do you mind if I bring a few more people onto the call? And I said, sure. By all means, this is what we’re trying to do. And it turned out it was actually the director of one of the teams that own the software product who just happened to be spending the day with his team listening to customer service calls.
And he immediately knew what the problem was and what the situation was, and wrangled people together. And then informed me that the team was listening, because the point of this was to avoid situations like what we’re experiencing right now. And I just said, oh, I’m so happy that this kind of thing happened.
So I’m glad that you and your teams listen to the, the customers, that are calling in even on the customer service lines. It’s so important.
[00:22:01] Jan Otterbach: It’s really about the individual team member going out there, the coach going out there,how do you coach customer orientation without having listened to a customer ever?
That just doesn’t really go. But yeah. that’s the running there.
[00:22:12] Bill Raymond: Yeah. And so you’ve said that you have your three mantras. You have focus customer, and then you also have collaboration. Can we talk about collaboration?
[00:22:21] Jan Otterbach: Yes. So the biggest. Fun I’ve had is really seeing those cross-functional teams grow together and it’s, I can’t advertise enough just knocking the right people into a room and locking the door. As in locking it from the outside or having it locked means from the outside. You trust the people in the room and from the inside it means, you can really only, first you try to depend on who’s in the room.
You’re not trying to do something else, go to someone else, but you try to solve it as a team first. And, there’s so much waiting that’s created by just sending an email to your colleague. Then waiting for day, three days for them not to respond. Then, following up for another two days, then setting up a meeting for half a week later when the calendars aligned to only find out it’s the wrong person, then needing to talk to another person.
And with that, you lose two weeks. If you lock people into a room virtually as part of a team, then no HR issue here. You, Actually create that atmosphere of, and communication cycle of finding the right person within the day as part of the standup. And it’s happening. And it’s making such a big difference
and having those teams focused on producing outcomes together also has been huge. so it’s been really motivational. Seeing needles go in the right direction and the team having an influence with the stuff that they do. And the teams love that. And we’ve never, many of the people that we’ve put into the teams together had maybe tangentially worked with each other or worked on a product team, but never been part of the same team as in team, you do this team, it’s you and that dynamic, really did take off and for some teams more, for some teams less.
But, that, that really was the highlight of my last year easily.
[00:23:55] Bill Raymond: It’s amazing what can happen when you can get a team of cross-functional people working together. Sometimes it start, it, it starts to feel like there’s these almost fake walls that are between you, right? this is, here’s my piece that I do on the team. And I have to wait for someone else to deliver that to me.
And then when they do, I’ll take care of it when I can and then I’ll pass that off to someone else. And now it’s no longer in my hands anymore. And I feel like what I’m hearing from you is there’s less of that and more of a shared responsibility for the work.
[00:24:27] Jan Otterbach: That’s right, but also cross learning. Yes, marketing people are better working marketing materials than anyone else is, but. they’re not the only people that can help with that or review them. and, really people and team members turning up as a common sense switched on individual that’s part of the team and just wants to help and stepping outside of their comfort zone, learning something new, and, experiencing what it is in another part of the business.
That’s been a huge part of this as well, and a huge side benefit of, of doing this, is that people are learning other skills and really experiencing empathy with what it is being in a role in another part of the business.
[00:25:03] Bill Raymond: You use these words a few times. I’m really curious, to get your thoughts on, you said outputs versus outcomes. Can you share what those differences mean to you?
[00:25:12] Jan Otterbach: Yeah, so we’ve, we’ve implemented OKRs, which I think you’ve have come up here on this podcast once or twice. But basically the basic idea is very simple. is, if you have a an a classic in apostrophes project. you try to produce the output, you try to produce the piece of software, the training material, the sales deck.
What, We’ve basically built into this is to say, okay, we don’t want, just want to produce the sales deck. We actually want to create extra revenue. So we are measuring if we’re actually making more money, and we can only make more money, not if it produce the sales deck, but if we actually get into the hands of our salespeople, if we train them, and if we actually, if they actually find it good enough to actually use.
By really, Focusing on the end outcome, be it revenue, cost, customer happiness, you don’t just produce a thing, park it, and then wonder why nothing ever happens. but you putting yourselves in a position where you are only successful, if you rethink it and work it all the way through as a team.
[00:26:06] Bill Raymond: There’s a lot of change that goes into that, right? Because it is very much one of those situations where you sit down and you’re used to doing things a certain way. We get to this phase in the project, and that means that we need to have these deliverables.
We get to that phase in the project, and we have to have those deliverables. And you’re talking about focusing on outcomes. That’s a real shift in change sometimes for how organizations do work. Has there been any challenges around that or is there any, anything that you’ve learned that you might want to share around how to shift that focus?
[00:26:43] Jan Otterbach: So the first reaction here was for me was to laugh because this is a continued thing. So the,the only advice I could give is to keep trying. one of the things we did, instead of having seven different cooks in seven different places, producing change, in different parts of our organizations, we actually put them all together in the same room.
A best off middle management and had an O K R workshop. Together, that, that was late last year and we, after a day and a half actually stepped out of that room with enough clarity on what our three priorities were that we wanted to work on together in a coordinated way between all the different cooks and kitchens that you could fit on, three post-its and producing that level of alignment and clarity,
it takes time, it takes relationship. It takes time really hard. And even with the three PostIts, we had a couple challenges then months on, but trying and trying again is what it is and just keeping with it. But even simple tweaks to the decks and conversations. So the governance conversations that we’re having around our strategic priorities, they now always start with the numbers.
So we’re religiously bringing data into the meetings. And it’s not just is the delivery on track, but how is the revenue needle moving? How is the happiness needle moving? That’s the starting point for the conversation, for any conversation, and it’s. Is the needle moving? Are we on track? Is this in line with our expectations?
And if not, how can we create the momentum to get the stuff done, to make the needle move. So it’s always about the result first.
[00:28:04] Bill Raymond: You are changing the team dynamic. Some people that are on the teams may be coming from a place, I’m assuming, are coming from a place where teams work a little differently than some of the work that you’re doing.
I’m curious, have you had any challenges there and have you overcome them in some unique ways?
[00:28:22] Jan Otterbach: So the big thing, what we did at the very start of this was to train a large number of people in business agility foundations. So that’s a mix of lean, agile ways of work. Working, but in large part it’s about agile mindset and that remains to me, the biggest in all of this is to have the core mindset of being practical and going for it as a team.
And, that’s, that was the foundations for everything. But we have new me, new members rotating in and out of the team. I have a micro format of the certification training that I run with them. I do personal or individual coaching, team coaching, and we keep running different training cores and formats to bring people into those teams.
But, at this point we have. A decent critical mass actually, of 70, 80% of the people in that, that are operating in the change space on the business side that have been exposed to bigger or smaller parts of the training, have seen the team’s work, have seen the sprint reviews, and it’s slowly but surely continued investment needed, growing into a thing that people are familiar with.
But there, there’d be more of a push needed over the next year or two to really make that a stable state basically.
[00:29:25] Bill Raymond: So you’re feeling it’s going very well, sounds like.
[00:29:28] Jan Otterbach: So what I’m really feeling is like I’m on a constant and together with my great colleague Robin, who’s working on the product and toss side, I was last year. We’ve likened this to a mud run. I don’t know if you know these obstacle courses where you’re, knee deep or neck deep in the mud.
That’s what that change feels like to me all the time. So because I’m jumping from problem to problem, and, that’s the change though. At some stage, I realized that me being on the mud run and, trying to help each other over 10 foot walls, that we’re popping up after we’ve just pulled ourselves out of the last mud hole,
that’s what the change feels like. So that’s not just, it’s not one enthusiastic journey, but it’s a rollercoaster rides of screams of frustration and joy in, in equal measure. So doing the change is really hard. It’s far from over, but,it’s been a fun ride, even if it’s been a mess times.
[00:30:15] Bill Raymond: I think one of the things that you’ll always hear, when you talk about change in an organization is that it’s. you can easily say, here’s a new process. You can easily say, here’s a new way that we’re going to do things. but it’s another thing to actually do it and live it. People will take in what they assume to be what you’re saying, and then
it might be different than what they assume, and you have to go back and reset expectations again. I, See this frequently. I’m a trainer. that’s one, one of the things that I love to do is to develop courseware and train. It’s very interesting. I’ll be in a training course and I will say something that I think is super clear
and someone will raise their hand and ask a question and say, can you tell me about this? And I said, I. In my head, I’m thinking,wait. I just told you, I just answered that question just five minutes ago. And, but it really is about how you connect with people and how you, convey the message.
And then you also, of course, are going to have challenges within a corporation as well, just how you’re set up and organized to begin with.
[00:31:23] Jan Otterbach: Yeah. And,I’m German and the word that always comes to mind is consequence. Which, To you as an English speaker will sound like consequence. And yeah, that’s one of the meanings, but not the one I’m talking about German in. Its very culturally appropriate in, in its ways, has a word for basically saying something and following through, really doing it even if it hurts with dedication and really sticking with your commitment and
that’s really what this change takes. It’s not just the training in the beginning. It’s creating little hooks and loops for, is this really working? What do we need to change? And doing it over and over again, like you were describing there with the training of being a once off and,that’s what we’re trying to do.
But, it, it a lot of, just by sheer force of will motoring through.
[00:32:09] Bill Raymond: I really appreciate the story that you’ve shared today and some of your learnings that you’ve had, but of course, with the podcast here, someone might be listening, going, I’d like to see some of these positive behavioral changes in my organization. What are some thoughts and ideas that you might have to leave with our audience?
[00:32:26] Jan Otterbach: Yeah, and taking my own medicine here. So focus customer and collaboration. That’s three and that’s maybe two too many as it stands. So what I recommend is, Try to pick one behavior to make better as a starting point and try to create movement around that. And my favorite reference and starting point for this is the Business Agility Institute’s Framework.
They, have, five different, categories, 18 behaviors, in that and more detail below that. And my advice would be to look on almost this, to me, it looks like a periodic table of different behaviors in different categories. And just pick the single one that matters most. And that might not be the one that the organization’s worst at because you might not be fixing that anytime soon.
But fixing some trying to fix something that’s really within reach where you can make a difference. And for me, really building motion around something means understanding what the problem is, having conversations around it, maybe having one-to-ones, and then starting to influence change as a group and creating momentum together.
So focus, don’t try to do too much at once. we’ve learned that for our teams and I’ve learned that I learned that for myself as a coach as well. So picking one of the 18 would be my go-to place for sure.
[00:33:35] Bill Raymond: I really appreciate everything that you’ve shared today, Jan Otterbach. Before we get going, if someone wants to reach out to you, how might they be able to do that?
[00:33:43] Jan Otterbach: I, yeah, I’d love for you to reach out to me on LinkedIn. just hit me up, contact, chat, whatever works. Maybe reference the podcast. I. I’d love to hear from you because one of the best things about arriving this community of agile coaches and professionals, just how open and collaborative this community is and how willing to help each other.
So I’d, like to pay that forward or if anyone’s got good solutions for the problems I’ve described here, I take them too. But LinkedIn is the path for sure. That’s the best way.
[00:34:10] Bill Raymond: And I really appreciate that. That’s something that I really found to be unique about this particular community is that anytime we reach out and ask someone, Hey, would you like to be on the podcast? Or you, I think, are the one that reached out to me and said, Hey,
Willing to have a chat? I really appreciate the fact that everyone in this. Community is really interested in helping everyone else and I appreciate that. Now, make sure that your LinkedIn link is on the agileinaction.com website, and if you’re in a podcast app right now and you’re listening to this on there, just go ahead to the show notes, a description and you’ll see it there.
I’ll also include the business agility link that Jan was just referring to. And of course we have some folks from the Business Agility Institute, that have been on the podcast, and I’ll share some links to those as well.
[00:34:56] Jan Otterbach: And with that, I want to thank you so much for the time that you spent today, Jan. It’s an absolute pleasure. Thanks for having me.
[00:35:02] Bill Raymond: Thank you for listening to the Agile in Action Podcast with Bill Raymond. Subscribe now to stay current on the latest trends in team, organization, and agile techniques. Please take a moment to rate and comment to help us grow our community. This podcast is produced in affiliation with Cambermast LLC, and our executive producer is Reama Dagasan.
[00:35:23] Speaker: If there is a topic you would like Bill to cover, contact him directly at bill.Raymond@agileinaction.com.