Thursday, September 09, 2010

Success with Agile Managers

The studios I visit that have the most success employing agile have something in common.  There is often a champion of the effort to become more agile who has a position of authority there.

Some of the things I have noticed about them are:
  • They understand the principles of agile and Scrum.  They understand the source of change comes from the teams, not a process.
  • They care about their people.  They want to see an end to the cycles of project madness.
  • They are willing to grow trust with the teams.
Although this role isn't defined as part of an agile process, it is often is a valued one.   Lately I came across the description of a role called the "Agile Manager" in a great book by Lyssa Adkins called "Coaching Agile Teams".   In the book, she writes that an agile manager's role is:
  • "Organizational change artist:  Guides the organization through agile adoption (and re-adoption).
  • Boundary keeper:  Reinforces healthy role boundaries both within the team and between the team and the greater organization.
  • Value maximizer: Manages the portfolio of projects like a product owner manages a portfolio of user stories, always asking what the highest business value project is now.
  • Lean manager: Uses lean thinking to improve organizational flow so that the value teams deliver can be realized without delay.
  • Organizational impediment remover: Finds the gritty courage it takes to remove entrenched impediments.
  • Team champion:  Offers observations from the team boundary and releases the team to reach their fullest potential by truly believing they can.
The agile manager is like water--patiently, water can carve away the hardest surface, and it will always find a way to flow.  Making things flow so the team delivers again and again is an honorable (and challenging) job.  In so doing, agile managers offer their highest service to the team. "

While this role isn't unconditionally necessary for success in all cases, it is for teams that don't have the authority to overcome organizational inertia that can prevent a team from becoming agile.


Peter Saddington said...

Great points to remember when beginning the agile transformation process! Looking forward to more posts from you on this!

Anonymous said...

Could you explain a little more this point:
"They understand the source of change comes from the teams, not a process."

Clinton Keith said...

The people closest to the work are the best source of discovering most improvements, which should be continuous. These improvements require creativity, passion and knowledge. They don't result by simply following a set of rules

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