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Topics: Agile, Business Analysis/Requirements Management, Strategy
Are middle managers becoming redundant in an Agile world?
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If more teams are self-managed and choose the way they work in Agile organizations, do we really need as many middle managers?
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There is no line in Agile about teams have to be self-managed. What Agile stated is teams have to be self-organized. Is not the same. Unfortunately as any other things that was created into Agile in order to gain into agile from 1990 the terms have been misused and misunderstanding. The first step to fail when organizations need to implement and use Agile is think that teams must be self-managed. My recommendation is taken a look to CMU SEI TSP team organizations (was the basement taken to think about team dynamics into Agile environments) and Arie Van Bennekum which is the person inside the authors manifesto for software that worked and still is working focused on team dynamic.
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Generally, it depends. Could be a matter of finding a place in different roles. Depends on the transformation goals. Clean slate, transitional, etc. An implementation of SAFe, for instance, has more options for transition.
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As I understood in Agile the team is more collaborated and self-organized.
It is so called "servant leadership".
Even there are scrum master(team facilitator) and product owner, but they work, collaborate and self-organized each other.
BR,
Mansour
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1 reply by Sante Vergini
Nov 26, 2018 2:16 PM
Sante Vergini
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Thanks Mansour. Servant leadership attributes will certainly go a long way to saving my more middle-management jobs in an Agile environment.
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Sante -

In traditional organizations where there have been many levels of middle management, one would expect that increased empowerment at the team level might reduce the number of layers.

Moving from a cross-functional project-centric approach where you'd have managers for each specialized skill set to long lived product or value-centric teams should also result in some reduction in managers.

As Andrew says, it really depends on the transformation goals and desired target operating model...

Kiron
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Thanks for your input Sergio.

Andrew, yes some can move sideways effectively. In my experience around 30% either get cut, resign, absorbed onto Agile (ie. accept the change) or move sideways. It's a fairly large change in the workplace when you really think about it.

Kiron, I agree. I think some organizations are kind of happy that they can shed staff using the Agile stick. That way they improve the bottom line not only by being Agile, but with staff cuts; good for shareholder value in their eyes.
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Nov 25, 2018 8:59 AM
Replying to MANSOUR THABET ALQUBATY
...
As I understood in Agile the team is more collaborated and self-organized.
It is so called "servant leadership".
Even there are scrum master(team facilitator) and product owner, but they work, collaborate and self-organized each other.
BR,
Mansour
Thanks Mansour. Servant leadership attributes will certainly go a long way to saving my more middle-management jobs in an Agile environment.
Network:107653



Sante,

I would love to see a very large organisation that is really Agile.

What are the cut they have made in middle management? What improvement it made to the bottom line?

LIke Kiron blog title Easy in theory....
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1 reply by Sante Vergini
Nov 27, 2018 2:17 PM
Sante Vergini
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Vincent, I think the larger the organization is, the less likely they are fully Agile. Thus far I am yet to see a full Agile environment, but several profess to be so.

The cuts in middle management were a mixture of terminations and resignations. The bottom line of course was a reduction in payroll costs, but also an increase in collaboration and value from the projects that teams and management were involved in. To coincide with the Agile transformation, there was also a migration of the in-office workforce to a distributed environment, which caused some further angst with some managers as they were accustomed to command-control and employees they could see face-to-face.
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Nov 27, 2018 10:09 AM
Replying to Vincent Guerard
...
Sante,

I would love to see a very large organisation that is really Agile.

What are the cut they have made in middle management? What improvement it made to the bottom line?

LIke Kiron blog title Easy in theory....
Vincent, I think the larger the organization is, the less likely they are fully Agile. Thus far I am yet to see a full Agile environment, but several profess to be so.

The cuts in middle management were a mixture of terminations and resignations. The bottom line of course was a reduction in payroll costs, but also an increase in collaboration and value from the projects that teams and management were involved in. To coincide with the Agile transformation, there was also a migration of the in-office workforce to a distributed environment, which caused some further angst with some managers as they were accustomed to command-control and employees they could see face-to-face.
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We need more competent individuals who can think strategically, develop networks, and deliver value.
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Depends on which side of agile you have in mind:
1) for organizational agility: it's a good idea to flatten the hierarchy. If a middle management layer is needed depends on the size of the organization.
2) for team's/project's agility: the need for middle (line) managers is independent from the chosen execution model
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