Create a real agile team with Fogg behavior model


As an agile coach, I try to help and empower companies to find their own way and move forward in their agile transformation. But there are companies that just hire me to hold a 2–3 days agile/scrum workshops for them.

I want to tell the story of one of these workshops for a company that we call it “Manko”(Not a real name). All team members, Team leads and managers participated in the workshop. There was a different type of people with different ideas and beliefs about agile:

1-Agile is a great thing and we need to follow it 2- Agile is a new fad and this trainer try to sell his gold hammer to us 3- No idea about agile and curious to learn new thing.

In my courses, I always try to reach the following goals and help the teams to stick to the change after my workshop.

1- Awareness(Why we need to change?)

2- Desire(Everyone or part of them has the desire to take part in and support the change.)

3- Knowledge (What is the Agile and different frameworks, and how they work?)

At the end of my workshops, I try to measure my result with these questions(Do they have the motivation and enough knowledge to start the change? ). 

For “Manko” case, at the end of the workshop, everybody was happy and they told me, “We will start to practice from tomorrow and …”. It was so exciting for me. 

After a while, I asked them “What is going on there?”, And in response, “Yeah, we are so busy now but trying to write user stories on Jira but developers didn’t update it … Some days we have daily standups, hmmm, not regular and…”. 

It was so surprising for me, Why such motivated guys could not succeed in their change plan? 

I thought we just need motivated guys to be able to change, and motivation can drive the change. But it was a wrong hypothesis.

The Fogg Behavior Model shows that three elements must converge at the same moment for a behavior to occur: Motivation, Ability, and a Trigger. When a behavior does not occur, at least one of those three elements is missing.

Based on this model, We have Motivated guys but low Ability and no Prompt or Trigger

Maybe you think that Why they don’t have enough ability? Why your course didn’t make them be able to work agile. 

We need to understand the difference between Knowledge and Ability. In a 2–3 days training course, You can just create knowledge for them and not the ability. Even simulations or any kind of games cannot create Ability. 

Ability comes from daily and real work. Once the knowledge(theory) is in place, then the individual needs to be supported during the actual performance (practice). They need to do it and make mistakes and learn and repeat and practice. 

For example, you are trying to write user stories together with all team members. But you don’t know how to write or breakdown stories for your real project in the banking industry. It will create frustration for team members and as a result, they will put it away 🙂 

Cognitively Demanding (Mental Effort) — People probably already have a lot to think about, so any new behavior that they are trying to take shouldn’t increase their cognitive burden too much.

So based on the Fogg model, We need to make teams be able to change their behavior. 

Hire Scrum Master/Agile Coach For fostering ability:

  • Coaching or role-modeling in the real work environment
  • Access to right tools
  • Give Feedback
  • Co-Working with a team, for example, breaking down stories together

Trigger or Prompt

Ability and Motivation are not enough to change behavior. We need to a trigger too. There are three types of the trigger, each aimed at a slightly different audience.

SPARK

The spark is a trigger that comes with added motivation. It’s perfect for those who have the ability but lack the motivation. 

Our training course sometimes works as Spark trigger. When it comes to training, a spark should help a learner see the Epic Meaning in the behavior you’re asking of them. They want to know why it’s important, and it’s up to you to make them care.

FACILITATOR(our case)

A trigger that is applied when there is high motivation but low ability. It seeks to simplify the task. As an illustration, suppose that you’re trying to eat healthier but you’re not very organized. You can sign up for a newsletter that is delivered every Sunday morning to your inbox with easy-to-make, delicious recipes for healthy meals. This will prompt you to sit down with the newsletter and plan your meals for the upcoming week, right there and then.

I think in our case Scrum Master or Agile Coach can be a great trigger for the team. She can work with them daily, Send them small pieces of training, Show them how to do a task(Like breakdown story),….

For example, I was an Agile Coach in a big enterprise, We tried to use OKR in company level. We held training courses for teams about OKR. Some of them started to write their Objective and Key results in the company’s confluence. So I started to check their pages, and comment for them. 

  • “Hey, Vahid, How do you want to measure this key result “Improve the speed delivery?, Do think we have any number to measure? like Deployment count per week?” 

Or I shared good OKRs as good internal examples to other teams in our social messaging groups. 

Or One-on-One mentoring with managers to check their OKRs. Giving feedback to them …

SIGNAL

They are ready to change. They have the motivation, they have the ability, all they need is the starting gun to fire and they’ll get going. This is just a prompt that serves as a reminder. It can be something as simple as a post-it note.

Scrum masters and Agile coaches can create ceremonies or some reminders for teams to act as a signal. For example, weekly meetings for checking and tracking OKRs. 

Conclusion

I think, for sticking on agility, companies need to hire or develop empowered Scrum masters or Agile coaches or any kind of agile practitioner. 

Agile coaches/Scrum master need to understand, three elements must converge at the same moment for a behavior to occur: Motivation, Ability, and a Trigger. 

If your team is not motivated about agility, let them know about the meaning and philosophy of Agile, you can ask help from external agile coaches/trainers. 

If your team doesn’t have the ability and it makes them frustrated, act as a facilitator and mentor, Work with them, Create a product backlog together. Create a safe space to learn by doing. (Company and senior leader should support you in this stage). 

Sometimes you need to act a simple reminder. Ask questions “Hey, When do you want to do grooming meeting in this sprint?”


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About the Author:

Asad Safari is an Enterprise Lean/Agile Coach. He has worked as an Agile coach for more than 7 years with several enterprises and startups. He has more than 14 years experience in the IT industry as a Software Developer, Tester, and finally an agile practitioner. You can follow Asad on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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