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Q&A with Pierre E. NEIS

Exclusive Trusted Magazine Q&A with Pierre E. NEIS, Agile Org Coach & Consultant.



How could you describe your career path in few words? 


Throughout my career, I have embraced the notion of personal growth and self-discovery. It has been a journey driven by an insatiable curiosity and a desire to explore uncharted territories through experimentation. My professional odyssey began as a Product Manager in the Automotive Industry, where I honed my skills and expertise. However, the intense stress associated with the role eventually led me to seek new challenges. 


Driven by my deep-rooted background in Kaizen, I transitioned into the realm of Operational Excellence Consulting. This naturally led me to embrace the principles of Lean Thinking and, as Six Sigma emerged, I gravitated towards more people-centric methodologies. This marked the beginning of my foray into the world of Agile. 


My passion for continuous learning and connecting with others has motivated me to explore the boundaries of Agile in various domains, contexts, and areas of work. Presently, I serve as an Enterprise Agile Coach, working diligently to address the needs of the entire organization. Additionally, I actively engage in research on agile organizations and serve as an educator for fellow agile coaches. 


Amidst all my achievements, I still maintain an insatiable curiosity for what lies ahead. I eagerly look forward to embracing new challenges and discovering the possibilities that await me on this captivating journey. 

 

 

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

 

In the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, the last two years have been marked by a significant shift in the way organizations approach work. There was a widespread anticipation for new ways of working to emerge in response to the disruptions caused by the pandemic. However, as time has progressed, it is somewhat disappointing to acknowledge that many organizations have sought to regain control and have adopted a hybrid approach to implementing agile practices. 


It is fair to admit that my initial expectations may have been overly optimistic, as we are now witnessing the emergence of unexpected challenges in the market. Nevertheless, these challenges have also brought about an increased demand for the design of agile organizations. It is important to note that this demand extends beyond start-ups and encompasses large global players who are grappling with pertinent questions such as how to be more responsive to changes, how to navigate complexity, how to effectively lead self-organizing teams, and how to foster successful collaborations with partners. 


In the realm of agile organizations, the conventional agile network cannot provide all the answers. This is because the solutions lie not only within the realms of IT, manufacturing, or specific methodologies. Instead, I have found it crucial to connect with individuals from a variety of fields, including behavioral science, sociology, ethnology, organization design, and systems dynamics. By seeking insights from these diverse disciplines, we can gain a deeper understanding of the multifaceted nature of agile organizations and devise more comprehensive strategies. 


It is worth noting that over these last two years, I have experienced a sense of returning to my Kaizen roots, but with the added benefit of accumulated experience. This has allowed me to approach the evolving landscape of agile practices with a renewed perspective, armed with valuable insights from both the past and the present. 

 

 

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


When asked about my most significant transformation experience, it's challenging to choose a single one as I have led or executed over 200 transformations. Each of these transformations hold value to me as they collectively contribute to my expertise and growth. I particularly remember the most challenging projects where, after careful assessment, I recommended discontinuing agile practices. One example was a small project involving European and African countries, where there were daily fluctuations in team sizes. 


Another memorable undertaking was a massive transformation involving 5000 teams, which posed unique complexities and required innovative solutions. 


I also recall successfully delivering a global SAP Test Automation project with only three team members, operating at 30% capacity, within a tight six-month timeline. 


Furthermore, I take pride in assisting my clients in transitioning their contracts from output-based providers to outcome-based partners, aligning their objectives for better collaborative success. 



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


Agile practices will undoubtedly continue to generate interest in the near future. However, it's important to note that there will be different levels of agility, as organizations adopt and adapt agile principles to fit their unique contexts. Deploying agile practices is not a one-size-fits-all endeavor. Each organization must approach it in an agile manner, meaning that flexibility and adaptability are crucial in navigating the challenges that arise during implementation. 


I believe that people will come to understand and appreciate the distinction between accomplishing tasks sooner versus merely rushing to complete them faster. Agile values emphasize earlier and continuous delivery of value, as opposed to simply speeding up the process without considering the desired outcomes. 


It's important to note that agile is not solely about practices, mindset, or culture. Instead, it revolves around effective collaboration and interactions among team members. The way we work together and communicate is what truly defines the agility of an organization. 

 

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