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Topics: Agile, Organizational Project Management, Scrum
Transition to Agile. Which role is the most important?
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It seems that nowadays everybody is implementing Agile. In your experience which rle is the most important for Agile success.
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While they are all important, I'd put the PO over the other agile-specific roles as without an effective PO, the team won't build the right product. Also, finding someone with sufficient capacity, domain expertise and empowerment to play that role is quite challenging.

Kiron
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1 reply by Stelian ROMAN
Apr 13, 2019 2:05 AM
Stelian ROMAN
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Thank you Kiron. A good PO is indeed hard to find.
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I would put on the same rank the Agile Coach/Scrum Master. He/she is helping the delivery team self-govern and self-organize, serves as a facilitator, helps the product owner manage the product backlog and communicate the projects vision.
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2 replies by Stelian ROMAN and anca stefanescu
Apr 13, 2019 2:11 AM
Stelian ROMAN
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Thank you Anca. According to the Scrum Guide, there is no Coach role. Everything that a Coach is pretending to do is the Scrum Master responsibility. I have not met a real Coach yet, That's why I said pretending. First of all none of the coaches that I met has a development background, managed a team of developers or delivered a product. Most of them are Change Managers, some come from Service Desk. The common skill is the fact that they know very well how to talk the talk, especially to the executives.
I believe in the importance of the role, for large organisations, but considering the empirical nature of Agile I believe that it is hard to grow in that role.
Apr 15, 2019 3:13 AM
anca stefanescu
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We have considered the Agile Coach (an external one) because we knew internally we didn t have experienced Scrum Masters. The first try was a failure (because they had a start up approach) but the second time we managed to identify a coach who comes from development area in and worked in Agile/Scrum environment in large companies. The difference is visible.
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My experience with "Agility" have brought me to believe that many organizations want be agile but very few really understand what it really means.
It's a fancy word that is very popular but it doesn't mesh very well with organizations that are used to working in silos and have traditional waterfall methods of delivery or reporting.
Finding the right balance requires a lot of effort and there is a fairly significant change in the organizational mindset of management which needs to take place if the move from Waterfall to Agile is to be successful.
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1 reply by Stelian ROMAN
Apr 13, 2019 2:14 AM
Stelian ROMAN
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Thank you Joey. I have similar experience. I 'met' Agile in 2002 as a developer. It worked fine because of the size of the company and the fact that it was a software company with a pretty complex product.
The famous 'mindset change' should start at the pointy head and usually it doesn't. They still expect progress reports, accurate estimations and to be the only ones that take real decisions.
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Apr 11, 2019 7:08 PM
Replying to Kiron Bondale
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While they are all important, I'd put the PO over the other agile-specific roles as without an effective PO, the team won't build the right product. Also, finding someone with sufficient capacity, domain expertise and empowerment to play that role is quite challenging.

Kiron
Thank you Kiron. A good PO is indeed hard to find.
Network:929



Apr 12, 2019 5:59 AM
Replying to anca stefanescu
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I would put on the same rank the Agile Coach/Scrum Master. He/she is helping the delivery team self-govern and self-organize, serves as a facilitator, helps the product owner manage the product backlog and communicate the projects vision.
Thank you Anca. According to the Scrum Guide, there is no Coach role. Everything that a Coach is pretending to do is the Scrum Master responsibility. I have not met a real Coach yet, That's why I said pretending. First of all none of the coaches that I met has a development background, managed a team of developers or delivered a product. Most of them are Change Managers, some come from Service Desk. The common skill is the fact that they know very well how to talk the talk, especially to the executives.
I believe in the importance of the role, for large organisations, but considering the empirical nature of Agile I believe that it is hard to grow in that role.
Network:929



Apr 12, 2019 9:44 AM
Replying to Joey Perugino
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My experience with "Agility" have brought me to believe that many organizations want be agile but very few really understand what it really means.
It's a fancy word that is very popular but it doesn't mesh very well with organizations that are used to working in silos and have traditional waterfall methods of delivery or reporting.
Finding the right balance requires a lot of effort and there is a fairly significant change in the organizational mindset of management which needs to take place if the move from Waterfall to Agile is to be successful.
Thank you Joey. I have similar experience. I 'met' Agile in 2002 as a developer. It worked fine because of the size of the company and the fact that it was a software company with a pretty complex product.
The famous 'mindset change' should start at the pointy head and usually it doesn't. They still expect progress reports, accurate estimations and to be the only ones that take real decisions.
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In case of a transformation to agile, from my point of view the most senior executive who demands the transformation is the most important role beside the change team leader and the change team, as this team will be the heart of the transformation.
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1 reply by Stelian ROMAN
Apr 16, 2019 6:13 AM
Stelian ROMAN
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Thank you Peter. I fully agree with you. I've seen a lot of charlatans pretending to be Agile Coaches 'driving' Agile transformations. The executive leader had no idea why Agile and why the organisation should implement it. In most cases the hired the AC to be trendy. And the AC did what every good consultant does: took their money and told them what they wanted to hear. The lack of OCM knowledge and experience with transformations is always a recipe for disaster in any transformation. In my humble opinion a [person that never had the responsibility to deliver a product or at least a project will never be able to lead an Agil transformation and a (real) Change Manager is mandatory for a large scale Agile transformation.
Network:49



Apr 12, 2019 5:59 AM
Replying to anca stefanescu
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I would put on the same rank the Agile Coach/Scrum Master. He/she is helping the delivery team self-govern and self-organize, serves as a facilitator, helps the product owner manage the product backlog and communicate the projects vision.
We have considered the Agile Coach (an external one) because we knew internally we didn t have experienced Scrum Masters. The first try was a failure (because they had a start up approach) but the second time we managed to identify a coach who comes from development area in and worked in Agile/Scrum environment in large companies. The difference is visible.
...
1 reply by Stelian ROMAN
Apr 16, 2019 6:24 AM
Stelian ROMAN
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Hi Anca. you are lucky, very lucky.
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Ranked by Importance:
1) Executive Sponsorship: If leadership doesn't drive it, it won't happen.
2) Agile Coach/Consultant: Someone with real experience to help the team transition. Getting a certification is not enough and is probably the most dangerous thing to have.
3) Product Owners: A Dedicated/Allocated Business Rep who understands and embraces this role will help the team deliver the right product.

Having done several Agile transformations the Executive sponsorship relevant to the scale of implementation is critical. A good rule of thumb is to get buy-in from at least 2 levels above the group you're converting. If you're converting all of IT then the CIO and CEO better have buy-in (if not the entire board) or else you're going to have real obstacles when it comes to HR.
The second most important role is a good Agile Coach or Consultant - and please don't use one of the "big boys" like PWC, Deloitte, Accenture, etc... as they tend to have LESS experience and are more rigid than more specialized companies and consultants. The Agile Coach will help you navigate obstacles and foresee challenges that an average CSM will not. When it comes to transformation, this ability to navigate and anticipate is critical to larger scale success.
The last more important role(s) are allocated Product Owners. Since this role sits with the business, this is usually the hardest to get because it needs to be a SME within the business which usually means this person was great at what they did, but now they have to transition OUT of that former role and into this one. Most organizations don't let them transition out, they just add more responsibility to this person. This is a huge mistake and the second leading cause behind transformation failure (behind no executive ownership).
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1 reply by Stelian ROMAN
Apr 16, 2019 6:23 AM
Stelian ROMAN
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Thank you John. As I mentioned in my response to Peter I agree 100% with number 1. It is based on my personal experience and also aligned with the famous CHAOS report that identified lack of executive support as the main cause for failure.
in principle I should agree with point 2 but so far in 19 years around Agile I haven't seen any real Agile Coach. I've seen many pretenders that are in fact consultants that can talk the talk but never walked the walk. I fully agree that a certification means nothing. The only certification that I value is the PMI-ACP. One because is framework agnostic, it doesn't sell or promote any particular framework and it is practices oriented and second because it is role agnostic. The goal is to understand the fundamental aspects that will help you to function as a member of an agile team.
I also agree with 3. Unfortunately I also agree that a real PO is very hard to find. I met very good POs that were Development Managers, people that had the vision and built a product working closely with the business SMEs.
With all due respect for the brand names listed I also fully agree that hiring a real consultant, the one that takes your watch to tell you the time, it's a waste of time and money. The 'big boys' can't be Agile themselves but they think that they can teach others.
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Apr 13, 2019 4:59 PM
Replying to Peter Ambrosy
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In case of a transformation to agile, from my point of view the most senior executive who demands the transformation is the most important role beside the change team leader and the change team, as this team will be the heart of the transformation.
Thank you Peter. I fully agree with you. I've seen a lot of charlatans pretending to be Agile Coaches 'driving' Agile transformations. The executive leader had no idea why Agile and why the organisation should implement it. In most cases the hired the AC to be trendy. And the AC did what every good consultant does: took their money and told them what they wanted to hear. The lack of OCM knowledge and experience with transformations is always a recipe for disaster in any transformation. In my humble opinion a [person that never had the responsibility to deliver a product or at least a project will never be able to lead an Agil transformation and a (real) Change Manager is mandatory for a large scale Agile transformation.
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