Before you take Agile to the team

This blog comes out of a recent discussion I had at the ALM (Agile Leadership Meetup) at Improving Enterprises in Dallas. This was my first time at ALM and you can imagine the energy that came out. It pretty much pushed me to write my first blog, something that I have been thinking of doing for a long time now.

So going back to the topic, one of the issues discussed during the meetup was about ability to sustain Agility when a team is in the middle of a transformation journey. A lot of reasons were discussed as to why sustainability is such a big issue. The more critical ones that came out of the discussion included:

  1.      Management understanding and buy in – This is an issue as meeting timelines is always the first priority. The management is least interested in the methodology that the teams adopt.
  2.      Teams work in congestion – Teams always have more than they can do, leading to chaos, pressure and drop in quality. This again results in focus shifting to meeting management/customer expectations.

So how do we go about solving the Management issue? As I ask this question, I also look back on how in my previous coaching engagements, the focus straight away was on the team. We know the team was starting on an Agile journey but did we try to find out on why the teams were going Agile and how much did the management know about Agility?

In a lot of cases, teams are embarking on a Agile journey because the CIO or the CTO wants then to and this just gets pushed down to the managers and their teams. And what do you do as a manager, you do what your E level expects you to do.

In order to achieve sustainability, the first step should be about training the E managers about:

  •      How Agile delivery focuses on customer value?
  •      How planning will be restricted to next iteration only?
  •      How Agile will impact the way code/functionality is delivered today?
  •      What are the constraints that Agile will bring to how work gets done today?
  •      How does Agile impact the roles and responsibility that each member plays in the team?

In short, making management aware of Agile and building awareness about the business benefits Agile can return or simple introducing them to the Agile principles. Additionally, making sure that all victories (small or big) are made available to the business and management.


It is probably impossible to sustain Agility if the management does not know what they are getting into. So, before you get to the team, it probably is a good idea to coach the E.

Will talk about team congestion in a future post. Till then…..

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