Quality Agile Management

Mass Bay Chapter

Johanna Rothman works with companies to improve how they manage their product development. She is the author of Manage Your Project Portfolio: Increase Your Capacity and Finish More Projects, 2nd edition, Agile and Lean Program Management: Scaling Collaboration Across the Organization as well as several other books including the newest: Create Your Successful Agile Project: Collaborate, Measure, Estimate, Deliver. See her blogs and more of her writing at jrothman.com.

Is your organization using an agile approach (or considering it)? Many people think that change mostly affects the teams and the project and program managers. It’s true—the teams power the changes from the product side of the organization. Even more important though is how managers change with agile approaches. The more management excellence—the more quality in management—the easier it is to use an agile approach.

That requires a change in how managers think about and create the agile culture.

Define culture
If you listen to Seth Godin, he says that culture is “people like us doing things like this.” That might be a good shorthand for how Edgar Schein describes culture:

  • How people treat each other (the behavior we encourage and tolerate)
  • What people can discuss
  • What the organization rewards

Successful agile cultures encourage psychological safety and collaboration. They encourage transparency in the project and product, and across the organization. You might well need to keep product plans secret outside the organization, but be transparent inside the organization. And, an agile culture rewards the team, not the individual.

Take all three together and we realize that being a quality agile manager might be quite different from what other people think great management is.

Let’s first discuss the behavior we …

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"More than any time in history mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness, the other to total extinction. Let us pray that we have the wisdom to choose correctly."

- Woody Allen

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