Monthly Archives: August 2014

You’ll need leaders if you want to be successful

Assume you have implemented Scrum for one team in your organisation and achieved this:
  • Team knows, understands and follows the scrum ceremonies
  • Fully collocated and cross functional team
  • Technical skills are used (test automation, test pyramid, Continuous Integration  and Continuous Delivery)
  • PO is part of the team and highly available
  • Vision for the product is clear, communicated and understood by everyone
Then you have won. Right? Story ends here, all live happily ever after….


Did you hit a wall on your way, even if you did everything right – on the team level?

Leadership is needed

Traditional Management often stands in the way of an agile movement. Things like:
  • Controlling and reporting
  • MicroManagement
  • Missing trust
are actually working against self-organising teams.

So for a movement towards becoming agile Management needs to transform into Leadership with the help of one or several Agile Coaches.

Step 1 of becoming a leader – understanding the system

Management should start working on understanding the whole System of their organisation by visualising what’s going on. Visualising the whole value chain of a company is easier than most would think.
You can start doing that by talking with upper management and finding out what steps there are for starting new product developments or projects. See an example of a consulting company first draft of a value chain below.

Using Visual Management to make the value flow a company transparent

Step 2 – improving the system

Once transparency on the whole value flow is there a few things become obvious:
  • Impediments are identified 
  • Bottlenecks are found 
  • The need for organisational structure changes that support the value flow may rise

When impediments and bottlenecks are found on a company level the only persons who can remove those are the ones who can take decisions like changing the company structure or hiring new people. This is normally senior management or C-level. 

They should have a regular meeting facilitated by an experienced Agile Coach to work on these impediments and to remove the bottlenecks.
Often there is more work in the whole company than is actually good for it. See the pictures below to get a rough understanding what happens when you do too many things in parallel compared to focussing on getting things done based on clear priorities.

Step 3 – Pull instead of push

Once it is clear that having everyone busy is not actually the way leading to success the next steps for the new born Leadership are:
  • establishing and leading company wide improvement cycles
  • work is distributed by pull mechanisms instead of pushing it to people
  • a culture of stop & fix is created that puts long term improvements above quick fixes

Step 4 – organisational changes

People need to be intrinsically motivated. To put it in three words, they need Purpose, Autonomy and Mastery. This is the last and hardest step for any leader. Ideas how to improve that are:

  • Give people slack time and room for personal improvement
  • Abolish performance appraisals
  • Create Peer groups to help people improve and get feedback
  • Celebrate success on all levels (teams, departments/tribes/guilds, company)
  • Provide long term goals for the company that employees can align their own goals with
  • Develop exceptional people and teams that follow the company’s philosophy
Balancing out the approach to become Agile by working as much with management as with the teams is crucial to long term success. Focussing on only the teams or only the management will bring the whole movement to a stop before it could really gain momentum.
So don’t forget to get the buy in by upper management before you start implementing Scrum or any other agile methodology in your organisation.
If you made similar experiences of hitting a wall please leave a comment describing what happened for you. In case you haven’t involved management until now and want to help them become leaders drop me a call or email to start with a simple workshop to get them going.