Caught in the Middle

Bart has been in ecommerce for over 20 years, and can't imagine a better job to have. He is interested in all things agile, or anything new to learn.

Many organizations have been following a similar path towards Agile adoption. They start with the development team, which includes engineers, product and customer experience people. From there, the teams attempt to convince upper management that, far from sacrificing anything, they will actually gain productivity and visibility of delivery. Once the executives agree, the effort then loops back around and picks up the development team members who were initially reluctant to change. Seems like a perfect path to success — except it leaves out a very important community of people, the managers in the middle.

The Agile literature is somewhat silent on benefits to middle and direct managers, leaving them to only learn from each other’s experiences and through word of mouth. And as with many things learned this way, the warnings and negatives tend to outweigh the positives. Successful adoption cannot be had without including this cadre of leaders, as they are the ones working with the development team each day. They will likely be responsible for the day to day march towards the new methodology, and the more resistance they apply, the harder it will be.

There is a lot of talk in the Agile world about leadership, coaching, and servant management. But there isn’t a lot about what this truly means, or how to overcome problems that are bound to arise, either real …

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"Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please."

- Mark Twain

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