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Episode 079: Thinking and Becoming More Agile in AEC

Today’s episode of the AEC Leadership Today podcast features Michael Sahota, founder and CEO of SHIFT314. Our topic is work methods – specifically work methods and thinking new to us that could be key to helping us solve some of our biggest work challenges. 

Thinking and Becoming More Agile in AEC

Imagine that there were work methods specifically developed based on universal principles of human interaction which, at their best, embrace change and create a culture of high performance, continuous learning, and great design with less risk and, at their core, value and respect people. 

These in fact do exist, even if we’ve not had (or taken!) the time to critically think about or explore them. 

Our guest today on the podcast is Michael Sahota, founder and CEO of SHIFT314. Michael is a worldwide expert in Lean, Agile, and evolved leadership, and we dive into different work methods, specifically the Agile method.

Agile is a very people- and team-centric way of working with clear outcomes, clearly defined deliverables, and a defined timeframe for delivery. Historically, this is not what has happened in the AEC industry, but it’s something that is craved and seems to line up well with our organization needs and the overall evolution of creative design work. 

The shift to Agile work is not for everyone, as Michael explains; however, if leaders within organizations are ready to make the shift, it can greatly improve individual and team collaboration, productivity, and outcomes. 

“Agile is an extraordinarily powerful technology, innovation and invention, and it will demand of you that you upgrade the leadership, the organizational culture, and the environment to one that will actually serve your people, serve your customers, and serve your profits.”

— Michael Sahota

In this episode, we discuss:

  • Michael’s transition from high-achieving software developer to leading Agile thought leader and consultant. 
  • How the concept of Agile came to be, and how it helps organizations across all industries build high performance, as it applies universal principles of how human beings work together. 
  • The definitions of various work methods and processes, including Lean, Kaizen, Six Sigma, Scrum, and Kanban; and which are most applicable to design professionals in the creative industry. 
  • The philosophy of Agile which at its core is putting people first and creating environments where we respond well to new information, how Agile integrates “rework” into the overall design and build process to eliminate last-minute project delays and stress, and what “waterfall” and “whirlpool” mean in relation to traditional design processes. 
  • What happens when work environments operate without a learning culture, how it affects junior-level employees’ ability to grow, and how “pairing” can foster collaboration and improve outcomes. 
  • How Agile teams are more flexible, adaptable, and able to meet the needs of individuals, teams, and customers better. 
  • Why organizational change needed for Agile design begins with leaders, and why the shift to Agile won’t improve performance, culture, or employee engagement without changes within leaders themselves. 
  • How better collaboration, outcomes, and productivity created by Agile processes allow for a premium to be charged for services. 
  • How the change to “work from anywhere” and remote and hybrid teams affects working in a more collaborative Agile state. 
  • What becoming an “agile organization” looks like. 

“We’re trying to move the people to the work, instead of moving the work to the people. This is a fundamental reversal that happens when people move to an Agile environment, which supports building a learning culture, collaboration, and having people work together to co-create their best work.”

— Michael Sahota

Michael’s insights into Agile design and leadership are truly thought-provoking and should be used as a catalyst for us to think more critically and strategically about how we can best improve our current work methods and processes to achieve greater project, team, and client results; and am thankful he took the time to share his knowledge and expertise with us on the podcast. 

About Michael K. Sahota

Michael K Sahota, CEC, is a Thought Leader, Author, Trainer and Speaker in the Agile Industry. Michael is the founder and CEO of SHIFT314, Inc.: a next-generation conscious training & consulting firm that specializes in Culture, Organizational Evolution and Evolutionary Leadership. He has developed a unique IP to unlock success with Agile, Digital, Lean, and other new ways of working.

Michael is professionally trained as an Engineer, an M.Sc. in Computer Science and has published papers on Artificial Intelligence. He has always been curious about how to make things work and has shifted this focus within his career from computers and software systems to people and organizational systems. Michael’s relentless quest took him to India to study consciousness from enlightened masters. His work reflects the deep integration of Eastern wisdom traditions into practical business guidance.

Michael’s life’s work is a system to enable evolutionary capabilities in people and organizations, creating high performance through Business Agility. As a thought leader in the Agile Industry he published the ground-breaking book An Agile Adoption and Transformation Survival Guide: Working with Organizational Culture. In 2018, he published Emotional Science: The Key to High Performance. Michael is currently working on his upcoming book regarding Evolutionary Change. His vision is to support the development of evolutionary capabilities in people and organizations to create change and impact on a global scale.

Thanks for listening to the AEC Leadership Today Podcast!

I sincerely hope you enjoyed today’s episode. Be sure to visit the SHIFT314 website to learn even more about how Michael and his team encourage organizational and leadership evolution to inspire positive outcomes in individuals and teams. If you like what you heard, leave a review on iTunes and share the podcast with your friends, colleagues, partners, and peers. Look forward to seeing you in the next episode!  

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About the Host

Peter C. Atherton, P.E. is an AEC industry insider having spent more than 20 years as a successful professional civil engineer, principal, major owner, and member of the board of directors for high-achieving firms.  Pete is now the President and Founder of ActionsProve, LLC, author of Reversing Burnout. How to Immediately Engage Top Talent and Grow! A Blueprint for Professionals and Business Owners, and the creator of the I.M.P.A.C.T. process. Pete works with AEC firms and leaders to grow and advance their success through modern and new era focused strategic planning and implementation, executive coaching, leadership and management development, performance-based employee engagement, and corporate impact design.

Trace the steps to preventing and reversing burnout in you and your team.

Trace the steps to preventing and reversing burnout in you and your team.

Episode 079: Thinking and Becoming More Agile in AEC