Mohamed has more than 12 years of experience in IT and Digital Transformation. He started his career in a big company but quickly switched to the world of consulting and coaching, passing through several consulting and expertise firms. After having accompanied several reference transformation projects in Morocco, Mohamed's work is now oriented towards coaching and digital entrepreneurship.
Mohamed and Agile, how did it all start?
It was in 2013 that I joined a major banking transformation project that aimed to overhaul an internet banking platform using the Agile methodology. In the beginning, my intervention consisted in "product coordination", a Multi-tasking Product Owner in disguise! In reality, I was involved in everything, from backlog management to test automation, through writing User Stories and even some technical tasks... but also the evangelization of client's teams on this new "religion" called Agile!
I quickly understood that it wasn't just a new approach to manage IT projects, but a new way of working at the whole company, all the internal and external interactions, the whole innovation factory... etc. I then found myself helping other clients to do it, creating a meetup for Moroccan Agile practitioners, presenting at conferences, sharing and writing articles... and since then my name has often been linked to Agile coaching in Morocco.
So, you started it 7 years ago! And you still do it?
Yes, I continue to do it and I'm very happy about it! First of all, because Agile Coaching is a very challenging mission. It's not about doing the same thing every day but far from it. Each client and each project presents a different case, with different issues and different stakes... Of course, there is a strong capitalization on past experiences, but each new project is a new challenge and a new opportunity to learn and do better.
On the other hand, my interventions are not limited to Agile Coaching only, I often help my clients on strategic issues around digital innovation, product framing, lean management for process digitalization, Scaling Agile and organization of new entities such as Digital Factory... etc. It is never boring and I often have new things to learn.
Agile is sometimes criticized a lot saying that It's a fad and not a subject of substance, how can you answer that?
If these criticisms exist, it's because there's a reason behind them!
If we consider Agile as a mindset, as values and as a methodology for innovation and collaboration, I'm pretty sure that it wouldn't be the subject of these criticisms but something else.
The success that Agile has had in recent years has aroused commercial interests among charlatans and illusion sellers all over the world, and not only in Morocco! Everybody wanted to position themselves on the subject, even without prior knowledge or experience, there are even some "intellectual settlers" who cross the Mediterranean to give us lessons on Agile! We discover afterwards that they have nothing to add to what we already know and that they can even drive us over the wall in some cases... I am not generalizing, but I understand perfectly well the voices that criticize this phenomenon.
It is important to emphasize that this is not a problem that concerns Agile alone, it is the entire IT and digital ecosystem that suffers in Morocco.
It is not in me, but in the key players in our country: Clients who promote charlatanism instead of meritocracy and real competency, Associations that make showbiz events and "Assises" instead of supporting young people and start-up companies in terms of funds, State that spends millions on useless projects instead of investing in people, training and real innovation projects... but also, to be fair, there are young people and leaders who consider themselves on the right side of the shore but don't try hard enough to clear things up and put the market in order.
While waiting for this solution, what advice would you give to young people who are interested in this field of Agile and digital transformation?
We must learn and not stop learning, read and share, create communities of learning and sharing, be part of the change through work and perseverance, think internationally and contribute to global initiatives through the world, Open Source projects is a good example of this contribution but not the only way!
We need true leaders in this country, leaders of expertise and not old-school managers, leaders that don’t stop to learn and grow, and help youngers to grow with them!