Agile Leadership


Management Thoughts from San Francisco

Another course delivered.  As always waiting for a plane.  This time I am thinking a lot about management in an agile organization.  The agile community has had much to say about developers, testers, BA’s etc.  But very little about managers.

Some would say that managers are not needed anymore.  They are dinosaurs – on the verge of extinction and Darwin will have his way.  I am not one of them.  I see no end to our need for managers.  Just a different role for them to play.

There is a lot of talk about the Spotify agile scaling approach.  People talk about squads, guilds and chapters and the lack of hierarchy.  Hold on.  If you examine the Spotify approach you will see that the Chapter Leads are Line Managers. 

And what of culture.  Who sets the culture of an organization?  It comes from the managers.  Traditionally in agile transformations the developers, testers, scrum masters etc get a lot of attention and training.  The managers are almost universally ignored.  They only get told about things that they do not need to do anymore. 

They don’t need to assign tasks.  They don’t need to check on status.  So what should they do with all of this extra time?  Approve holidays?  Timesheets?

I am often asked what is the role of a manager now that my teams are all self-organizing?  How do I add value to my staff without getting in their way?  How can I perform performance reviews?  Salary adjustments? 

I have been following Jurgen Appelo’s Management 3.0 work with interest and I like what I see.  A lot of the thinking has much in common with the Kanban community.  It speaks to an actual management role within an agile organization, and frames the role of a manager as a pivotal position that can add enormous benefit to an organization if done well.

How can I create high performing teams and tap into my team members intrinsic motivations?  How much do I delegate to a self-organizing team?  How do I help to create an 'agile culture'?  What opportunities does an agile transformation provide for managers?  What new skills do I need to help my teams be successful?  These are real questions that need answers.

If you are part of an organization undergoing a transformation do not ignore your managers.  They are key to your success.  If you are a manager in an organization undergoing a transformation - do not be ignored.  Demand more.  Demand answers to these questions.  We still need you, and your company and teams need you.


1 comment :

  1. So many interesting questions you've posited here. If only we had the answers!

    Sarah | SEO Company NZ