It is time to recognize managers in the Agile journey.
By and large the most common obstacle I encounter during large enterprise Agile transformations is middle management resistance to change. Change is a given. Change is hard. Change is scary. It is difficult for managers who have been elevated to their current career perch through behaviors, processes, and tools that no longer are relevant in the midst of teams striving towards Agile values and principles. To make it even more difficult, these existing, irrelevant behaviors are almost instinctual. The muscle memory is well honed and trusted.
The Agile Manifesto1 has four values and 12 principles to guide teams on their Agile journey as they collaborate, deliver, reflect, and improve2. Scrum has the five team values of commitment, courage, focus, openness, and respect3. XP has the five team values of communication, simplicity, feedback, courage, and respect4.
Where are the values and principles to guide managers as they embark on the Agile transformational journey? Without anything to guide them when the going gets tough in the transformation, managers turn to what they know:
- command and control tactics to manage the workers
- local optimization of functional silos
- phase gates and governance
- change avoidance
- documentation as a communication vehicle
- processes and tools
- big requirements and big design
- predictive practices over empirical
- dependency management
The result? The transformation halts or slows down to such a crawl, you would not recognize it as a transformation. Teams are fearful to change. There is no space for change. We stall out.
Managers have been ignored in this journey to Agile. We must give a set of values and perhaps principles to guide their actions and reshape their behavior. Agile coaches must partner with managers in addition to the team to grow the Agile mindset.
I have not fully baked a set of values for Managers, but I propose the following five as a place to start from…a first experiment to try:
Courage. It is good enough for Scrum and XP, and courage makes the list of values to which Managers will aspire. It takes courage to break from the status quo. There is a healthy dose of fear in corporate America that drives managers to fall in line and be “good” managers, not stepping outside of the boundaries. We need managers to lead, to break free of the status quo, and to make change happen. Managers will have to dare to be different than their peers…to be different from what made them what they are today as a manager. Managers will need executive support in this journey to create an environment of safety within which managers can transform to the Agile mindset.
Trust. Trust the team. The manager hired the members of the team for a reason. They are professionals and should be treated accordingly. The team figures out the “How.” Managers will stay away from the “How” at all costs. Managers provide the team with the “What” and the “Why.” There are debates on what comes first—truth, trust, or transparency. Managers will not make the mistake of making the team earn trust. It does not work this way. Start from trust. The rest will follow.
Service. Make no mistake, the team is not here to serve management. Managers are here to serve the team and must have a servant leadership mindset. As a manager, go see the team where they work, and ask them what they need. What environmental issues impede their work? What small changes could you make happen to help them complete the work better? What are they struggling to overcome? In what new skills do they need training? Not every issue is in the team’s control to solve. A manager will use the influence of her position for the good of the team and remove the organizational hurdles that are hindering them.
Growth. Managers must be daring in the growth of the team…creating and cultivating a growth culture. The teams will deliberately be given the ability to operate outside of their comfort zone. This will allow the team to stretch their wings. They may fail, and then management will support them in picking themselves back up and trying again. This is where real developmental growth happens. The boundaries that stifled team innovation in the past must be removed. Management will allow the team to do things they have never been allowed to do in the past, such as letting them talk to the customer, letting them ideate to solve outcomes, and letting them talk strategy. This will set them free.
Improvement. As a manager, set the tone by never being satisfied with the status quo. If you are not changing, you are stagnating. Someone else will pass you by. Change is not a cost. Change is an investment that will ultimately ensure success in product delivery. Allow scope to change as we learn from working software. Allow estimates to change as new information is revealed about the work. Allow the team to evolve its process as they reflect and improve. Allow the design to evolve as we deliver, not by thinking harder about what makes a good design. Allow the team to experiment with new approaches. While team experiments and innovation have a short term impact to slow down current delivery, their potential upside to future delivery is huge. The only way an experiment is a cost is if there is no learning. No more will we say, “We’ve always done it that way.” Now, we will say, “We can always improve.”
I continue to introduce the values of courage, trust, service, growth, and improvement to the managers in the enterprises I am transforming. I coach them on what it means to live these values. Managers deserve a place in Agile. Through living these values, they will have one.
转：Do We Need a Manifesto for Managers?https://coachlankford.com/2018/07/22/do-we-need-a-manifesto-for-managers/