leading agile teams

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Leading Teams

Leading Agile TeamsThe New Role of Management in an Agile Organizationwww.allisonpollard.com


Allison PollardAgile coach and consultantFirm believer in continuous improvement DFW Scrum user group leader and Dallas Agile Leadership Network board memberGlasses wearer


where you workyour historywhy this topic

...is a Principal Consultant for Improving Enterprises and has worked with Agile teams as a project manager, as a Scrum Master, and in coaching roles. A firm advocate of continuous improvement and the power of teams to affect change, she believes the world needs more strong teams in order to be Agile and meet the demands of today; her goal is to help others create them, shape them, and support them. Allison also volunteers locally as one of the organizers of the DFW Scrum user group and serves on the Dallas Agile Leadership Network board.


What is agile? Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable software.Welcome changing requirements, even late in development. Agile processes harness change for the customer's competitive advantage.Deliver working software frequently, from a couple of weeks to a couple of months, with a preference to the shorter timescale.Business people and developers must work together daily throughout the project.Build projects around motivated individuals. Give them the environment and support they need, and trust them to get the job done.The most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a development team is face-to-face conversation.http://agilemanifesto.org/Working software is the primary measure of progress.Agile processes promote sustainable development. The sponsors, developers, and users should be able to maintain a constant pace indefinitely.Continuous attention to technical excellence and good design enhances agility.Simplicity--the art of maximizing the amount of work not done--is essential.The best architectures, requirements, and designs emerge from self-organizing teams.At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behavior accordingly.


How do you implement values and principles?www.allisonpollard.com

Scrum only defines 3 roles but other key roles existThose key roles DONT:Assign work to team membersTell the team how to do the workTalk in the daily scrums

What does this mean for managers?



Are managers no longer needed?


The manager is not responsible for getting the work donethe Team is responsible for completing their commitment in the sprint. And the manager does not commit dates on behalf of the teamit is the Product Owners responsibility to deliver the release on schedule.

With creating strong, empowered, self-organizing teams, there can be an initial reaction of ha ha, we are empowered! We dont need no stinkin managers...


No Team is an IslandSelf-organizing teams exist to produce a product or service that is valuable to the organization and its customers.


Self-organizing agile teams are not out there on their own, disconnected from the organization. Self-organizing teams exist to produce a product or service that is valuable to the organization and its customers. They are accountable to make their progress visible and work within financial boundaries.7

Managers can play a valuable role as teams become self-organizing and take on more responsibility.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/eekim/14352861405/Managers need to learn a different way of managing.


By now, most people realize that organizations still need management (and people in management roles) after they adopt agile methods. However, if those organizations want all the benefits of agile, managers must also change the way they work. Agile companies look for leadership rather than management. This is a real change in mindset, both by team members and also in how managers view themselves and their role. A traditional management team spends much of its time focused on telling teams what to do. If managers want teams to take more self-responsibility, they need to shift your focus from monitoring the day-to-day work of individuals and let teams grow up. Managers need to learn a different way of managing. Does that sound intimidating?8

Acknowledging the Management Trifecta of Doom

https://www.flickr.com/photos/63425234@N05/5772772604/Individual fear of seeming unqualified for management.Organization encourages the right now answer rather than the right answer.People have been taught that a managers job is to get other people to work hard.All these work against learning, so we have to shift our perception of the management role.


The adoption of agile/scrum is a culture change, and managers need to be agile and learn continually. In the US, we face a trifecta of obstacles in creating a learning culture for managers, so it is natural to feel uneasy as the organization culture changes.

When someone is promoted to management, it is a sign hes made it, proved that he is management material. When youve made it, asking for help can signal that you werent management material after all.In many organizations, it is more acceptable to be sure and dead wrong, than admit uncertainty and be approximately right. In such organizations its a sign of weakness to ask for help or show uncertainty. That slows the learning curve for new managers.Most people are motivated when they start a new job. But motivation drains away when people must work hard to overcome obstacles in the form of procedures, rules, and organizational hoops rather than value-adding work. People dont need managers cracking a whip to get them to work hard. Managers need to focus on creating an environment where its easy to do the right thing and do valuable work. Then people will work hard on their own.All these work against learning. So we have some hard work to shift our perception of the management role.9

The Old ManagerActions:Enforces decisionsCommands respectControls the process, the team, the deliverable, and the effortPerception:Distrusts the teamDictator, Ruler, Controller


The Old Manager was responsible for everythingoverseeing delivery of projects, managing daily operations, coaching team members. Thats a lot of plates to keep spinning when you are trying to manage them all at a low level. The Old Manager seems to be in perpetual motion, carrying never-ending lists of meetings to attend, items to accomplish, errands to run, unfinished paperwork to edit, constant intrusions, and so on; they may have difficulty seeing themselves as significant in a system where the action seems to lie with those above or below them.10

The New ManagerActions:Relies on the team to decideEarns respectHas a team that creates and uses their process, that commits to their deliverable, and raises and lowers their effort to make their commitmentPerception:Trusts the teamCoach, Mentor, Leader


The New Manager relies on the team to make decisions because they are closest to the work and are the ones committed to delivering. New Managers distribute out to the organization the essence of the teams they manage and bring into the teams the essence of the organization. The contacts and information available to them makes them apt see the total system more clearly than those above or below them.11

Create the conditions that enable teams to thrive

How do we create and support effective teams?


It is the responsibility of managers to create the conditions that enable teams to thrive and continue to self-organize. Managers need to work across the organization to create a work system that enables teams to deliver value to customers and the organization.

But focusing only on the diffusion of information outward to the organization and inward to the team can lead to disintegration where teams tend to become isolated. For diffusion to work well, it needs to be partnered with integration. The integrating group is a collection of peers within an organizationother managers. They integrate by connecting and integrating with each other, and by bringing the fruits of their collaboration back to their teams as well as to the organization as a whole.12

Team Effectiveness:The 60-30-10 Principlewww.allisonpollard.com

Harvard professor J. Richard Hackman has been studying teams for decades. One of his most significant findings is that 60% of the variation in team effectiveness is attributable to the design of the team, 30% to the way the team is launched, and 10% to leader coaching once the team is underway. By design of the team, he doesnt just mean picking the best people. And managers need to work with individual team members to realize their needs and coach them.


Designing Flexible, Long-Lived TeamsOrganize the work so teams are creating a product or service that has meaning from a business perspective.Form teams that have the breadth of skills to handle a broad range of work.Bring work to the teams rather than reforming teams for each new project. https://flic.kr/p/ar9Zon


1.Analyze and organize the work in the pipeline so that teams have whole workcreating a product or service that has meaning from a business perspective, and l