Transparency is essential for agility, however usually the ability of transparency is challenged by long-hold cultural norms. This article shares examples of the ability of transparency and the way it may be used to create breakthroughs in efficiency.


I used to be serving to an organisation undertake agile methods of working throughout six groups. We had began nicely. We had a shared imaginative and prescient for the change and everybody felt excited. We held a sequence of workshops to upskill everybody and had kicked off strongly.

The groups have been filled with extremely expert individuals who knew one another nicely and had labored collectively for years. They had been granted loads of autonomy, have been all extremely dedicated and knew the world they have been working in very nicely.

As we progressed, I saved getting a sense that one thing wasn’t proper. I drive house every day feeling one thing was improper, however I couldn’t put my finger on what. I didn’t know the world of the enterprise practically in addition to they did, however my intestine feeling was that they need to be getting by way of rather more work than they have been.

While reflecting on this I out of the blue realised what I wanted – transparency. Without transparency, I didn’t actually know what’s going on.

Creating Transparency

I made a decision to arrange a small experiment. The CEO had made it clear that this undertaking was the primary precedence of all the firm, subsequently all individuals engaged on this have been devoted to it full-time. I made a decision to check this.

Rather than dig into the small print of what everybody was engaged on (micro-management), I requested them to assist me create transparency about the place their time was being spent. To do that, I arrange a easy board the place every day (at our Daily Scrum) every individual recorded a inexperienced tick in the event that they have been doing the 7 hours they have been purported to, or a purple cross if it was lower than this.

What I noticed shocked me. Everyone was purple crosses!

As we labored by way of this, we discovered one thing vital – most individuals have been solely spending one hour a day on the undertaking.

Despite this being an important undertaking of the organisation, structured to ship an important work first in iterations, the groups have been truly engaged on all kinds of different issues!

I remained curious and requested a lot of questions. One group member shared an e mail that learn one thing like this:

No transparencyIt turned out this was taking place in every single place. There have been actually 1000’s of invisible undercurrents working all through the organisation primarily based on no matter work well-meaning managers have been attempting to get achieved. They had no transparency of what was truly occurring.

Using The Power of Transparency

This organisation had a hierarchical tradition, the place success was measured by individuals doing what managers requested them to do. Well-meaning managers have been attempting to get their accountabilities delivered, however have been making a nightmare of bottlenecks, delays and dependencies throughout groups.

I purchased the invention to the Product Owner, who was additionally a senior supervisor with a variety of affect within the organisation. He too was shocked but additionally thrilled with what we had found.

We designed an all-hands assembly the place we shared the issue. He then empowered all of the groups by asking them to say no to any work that wasn’t a part of their present Sprint or was a real emergency that had been agreed by the Product Owner. All different incoming work to go to the related Product Owners to be ordered on their respective Product Backlogs.

The subsequent Sprint productiveness went by way of the roof. Teams have been rather more centered and happier. They began delivering considerably better-quality outcomes extra incessantly.

Winning with transparency

Breaking tough habits

Six weeks later we hit one other brick wall.

The Teams have been struggling to handle the amount of help work coming by way of. It was impacting their capability to give attention to undertaking work. They raised it as one thing they wanted our assist with to resolve.

We requested them to estimate how a lot of their time was being spent on help work. They calculated 25%. When then requested them to calculate their per-Sprint capability. As an instance, one group had 8 individuals, every devoted 7 hours a day over the 10-day Sprint. Therefore, their capability was 8 x 7 x 10 = 560 hours. If 25% of their time was being spent on help work, then this was roughly 140 hours. Each group then put aside this period of time for unpredictable incoming help work.

But to make sure we maintained transparency, we tracked how we have been utilizing this time. We created a big public whiteboard the place we tracked how a lot of this time was getting used, daily.

What we found shocked us once more.

After one week (half the Sprint), they’d used all of their help allocation! The quantity of help work was considerably greater than what they’d estimated.

Together, we analysed the incoming help work. It turned out that solely a fraction of it was real help work. The relaxation was coming from the identical managers as earlier than, who have been now gaming the system by placing by way of their work requests as “help work”. We nonetheless had the identical drawback – simply in a special format.

Brick wall

Solution: Increasing the Power of Transparency

To resolve this as soon as and for all, we decided to make all incoming help work clear by placing it on the wall. Each day at our Daily Scrum, the groups and Product Owners agreed how a lot help work versus how a lot undertaking work they’d do every day.

Productivity shot up once more.

We then kicked off a broader piece of labor to handle the basis reason for the issue – the portfolio of labor the corporate was attempting to get achieved. We created an organised, structured and clear portfolio system the place all undertaking have been prioritised primarily based on the capability of the accessible groups. With all of the managers concerned aligned, everybody might to get their work achieved and achieve success.



Transparency is your good friend. It is straightforward responsible individuals after we are getting outcomes we don’t anticipate, however it’s often the system of labor that’s the root trigger. People don’t need to fail.

Leadership is about creating readability and an atmosphere the place individuals may be profitable and high-performing groups can emerge. As leaders, transparency is a crucial method of reaching this. Without it, it’s tough to know what is actually occurring.

I encourage you to think about how your organisation makes use of the ability of transparency. What might you do to enhance it?

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