Wednesday, February 11, 2015

"Agile Managers" and "Yellow Brick Road" sessions at AONW

Michelle Salvado and I combined out "Are you Managers Agile?" and "The Yellow Brick Road of Management" sessions.

We came up with some problem statements:
  * Some Managers are Agile.  Some are not.  Some people have heard complaints of "We're not ready" from Managers.
   * In on person's organization, a new leader joined recently.  She wondered what would happen to their Agile practice with a new leader.
   * What Agile values are discussed in a type MBA program?  What practices make a difference?
   * Do we see the same fears with our Managers as we see on our Teams?
   * How do we (as an organization) change?
   * Who is the Scrum Master of Managers?

We brainstormed some behaviors and values that we want to see in our Managers (they'll basically Agile values)
   * Failing fast
   * Transparency
   * Collaboration
   * Feedback and adaptation
   * Removing impediments
   * Retrospecting
   * Systems Thinker
   * Champion of Agile (or at least acknowledging the value of Agile)
   * Stability, focus, pride in ownership of delivery
      * That is, the Manager's work is stable and they have focus
   * Servant Leadership
   * Focus on customer success over metrics
We came up with some ideas of action (and experiments) to try
   * When talking with Manager, use language that works for them.  Focus on the values and principles of Agile, not so much the terminology and ceremonies (at first)
   * Don't stay too long in "the system".  Rotate out of a Management role to remind yourself (re-learn) what things look like from the ground
   * Automate the stuff that has low value (reports, metrics, etc.)
   * Start with Retrospectives
   * Sell the results of your Team.  Make the value visible.
   * Use Personal Kanban as an example of applying Agile to your work
   * Cite trusted third-party sources like Forbes or the Harvard Business Review
   * "Lean" might resonate better with some people.  Focus on the work that you're not doing
   * Emphasize that you're there to help make THEM successful
   * Kanban board for organization

David Whitlock
Adjunct Lecturer
Portland State University

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