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Topics: Agile, Change Management, Leadership
Is there such a thing as „The 10 commandments for senior managers who want (to be) Agile“?
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Many managers want their projects to be agile, also because the term sounds so cool. Who wants to be “awkward” or “clumsy” (see the antonyms of the word agile in the Merriam Webster dictionary https://www.merriam-webster.com/thesaurus/agile).
But how can me make it clear to those same managers that Agile requires some very concrete actions from their side. How about e.g. “The 10 commandments for senior managers, who want (to be) Agile”? Here are some inspirations:
- “You shall make your best business people available for the project. Yes, those are the same people which are also the best in handling the daily business. And, yes, making them available does not mean that they will read a specification document from time to time, it means that they will sit every day for several hours with the IT developers.”
- “Even if you and two of your colleagues from the board are competing for the succession of the CEO position and therefore want to outshine each other, you shall agree on one (yes, ONE) product owner, who is going to set priorities for the project. Even if this means that some of your wishes will get a low priority, because those of your competitors have a higher business value for the company.”
- “Every 2 months you shall participate in person at a planning increment meeting and explain your vision of the business and the project to the entire project team. Even at the risk of some team members asking clever questions and you realize, that your vision is not as thorough as you pretend”.
- “You will not get a fat presentation every month about the project status, which has gone through a 4-week iteration of reviews to ensure that it does not contain any word which might make you look bad in front of the CEO. One principle of agile is “working software is the main measure of progress”, so you shall instead regularly attend sprint demos”.
- And so on…
I am looking forward to your inputs!
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One for the CFO is needed, I suppose. If today the organization is used to a protocol where business cases (i.e. funding requests) are approved based on a fully developed forecast, perhaps even with reasonably well defined requirements predicting the outcome of the project, leadership (incl. CFO) may have to accept that Agile projects will be presented (and should be approved) in a different way. If the organization pursues somewhat "pure" product development projects, the outcome cannot be fully predicted and funding may be requested in waves. The initial funding request may be articulated based on a high-level vision for the project, initial user stories for an MVP, and a cost estimate for the team. And like you allude to above, the message will be "we'll let you know in a couple of Sprints how we are doing..." . In some organizations, the question ought to be asked: will the CFO be comfortable with that approach?
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1 reply by Martin Haerri
Apr 21, 2018 9:09 AM
Martin Haerri
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Thank you, Oliver, that's a very important one you mention. Organizations still fund "projects" instead of "customer value", which leads to massive portfolio building exercises
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You forgot one: run faster than your stakeholders when things go wrong. It is amazing, if you do not use the word "Agile" into everything you do or say you will consider bad, ugly, dirty and old fashion. Unfortunately that´s jeopardizes the work or people like me that are working with Agile from years and of people that are trying to find a new job.
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Apr 21, 2018 8:40 AM
Replying to Oliver Schneidemann
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One for the CFO is needed, I suppose. If today the organization is used to a protocol where business cases (i.e. funding requests) are approved based on a fully developed forecast, perhaps even with reasonably well defined requirements predicting the outcome of the project, leadership (incl. CFO) may have to accept that Agile projects will be presented (and should be approved) in a different way. If the organization pursues somewhat "pure" product development projects, the outcome cannot be fully predicted and funding may be requested in waves. The initial funding request may be articulated based on a high-level vision for the project, initial user stories for an MVP, and a cost estimate for the team. And like you allude to above, the message will be "we'll let you know in a couple of Sprints how we are doing..." . In some organizations, the question ought to be asked: will the CFO be comfortable with that approach?
Thank you, Oliver, that's a very important one you mention. Organizations still fund "projects" instead of "customer value", which leads to massive portfolio building exercises
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Martin -

If you take the Manifesto's four values, combine that with lean principles and inject a dose of servant-leadership, you'd likely be there...

Kiron

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