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Q&A with Peter Zylka-Greger

Exclusive Trusted Magazine Q&A with Peter Zylka-Greger, Consultant, Agile Coach.

How would you describe your career path in a few words?

My career path has been far from linear or predictable. I began in logistics, initially viewing work as a necessity for earning a paycheck. However, stepping into the realm of Agility opened my eyes to an entirely different perspective on work. This was when I discovered the joy of working and the anticipation of going back to work on a weekend. Since then, I've had the opportunity to work in diverse settings—different countries, companies of various sizes, multiple industries, and various employment statuses including permanent positions and freelance work. At present, I'm engaged in freelance work, servicing multiple clients and offering an array of services.

What has been paramount to me is that every phase of my journey has imparted valuable lessons for my future. Reflecting back, I wouldn't alter a thing, firmly believing that each experience occurred for a purpose.

How do you think agile practices have transformed companies over the past two years?

The influence of agile practices largely depends on the company. Companies that have simply adopted agile practices without scrutinizing and challenging their own organizational structures and systems might not have seen much transformation or change. What is significant, however, is the objective companies aimed to achieve through the implementation of agile practices. Most companies, I believe, would have had objectives like improved customer outcomes, quicker delivery, and increased employee engagement.

Did they attain what they had envisioned from the adoption of these practices?

In my view, this is a critical factor in determining how companies have transformed. Agile practices excel at revealing patterns and trends. From there, the response largely depends on the company's culture. Will they sweep the revealed issues back under the rug, or will they confront them and thus bring about systemic changes within their organizational dynamics?

What successful cases of agile transformations have you had the opportunity to observe that particularly stood out to you?

A particularly memorable instance was during my tenure in Australia. Interestingly, we never labeled it as an "agile transformation" or any sort of transformation for that matter. Instead, we focused on instigating a cultural shift from within. This sentiment was consistently echoed throughout our endeavors—it was never about implementing a new (agile) process, but about altering the way we work, interact, and handle challenges, all with an unwavering focus on our customers. Undeniably, change is often challenging. As part of our cultural transition, we had to part ways with some employees while ensuring that new recruits were aligned with the future culture we sought to establish. With perseverance, a willingness to improve, and robust leadership, we were able to effect considerable change in a relatively short period. The experience of working in such a vibrant environment continues to resonate with me, acting as a "North Star" guiding my aspirations for an ideal workplace.

Will agile practices continue to generate interest? What challenges do you see in the context of deploying these practices?

I foresee an increasing number of companies adopting agile practices and subsequently realizing that the mere implementation of these practices does not yield the expected impact. Consequently, I hope that more companies will strive to understand the original ethos behind Agile—“uncovering better ways of (developing) a product by doing it and helping others do it.” Instead of relying on a prescriptive method that may have worked for others, they should seek to instigate change from within and discover their unique path to enhancing their organizational system. This shift should ideally lead to a culture where "individuals and interactions" are genuinely valued over "processes and tools".

However, this also presents the biggest challenge as it requires more effort and introspection. As I mentioned earlier, implementing a new process is usually less daunting than altering organizational systems, patterns, or structures.

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