I continue working with a number of software enterprises in the throes of large-scale agile/Scrum rollouts. Whether it be a new rollout, or one where the next set of potential achievements and impediments rest at the door of management, one thing is increasingly clear: these rollouts will not reach their full potential until first, mid, and upper-level management is fully on board.
Since Scrum often starts bottom-up, or at least the training focuses almost exclusively on the team level, perhaps our expectation has been that awareness of the initiative at the management levels was enough. Perhaps we thought that that mangers would naturally fold into the mix and provide the requisite support and leadership needed for success at this next level. However, how we expected them to know how to do that was not so clear. Moreover, the popular chicken-pig Scrum story does not help. After all, who is the chicken and what is their role if it is not to be engaged actively in the operation of the teams? Even the role of the ScrumMaster, which in so many ways is a proxy for more effective management leadership of the team, can be as much of a conceptual barrier as it is a breakthrough. If the ScrumMaster mentors the team, what’s does the manager do? Wait patiently outside the room for a full report?
To this end, I have personally had to reset my expectations for managers in these large-scale lean/agile rollouts. It is simply not sufficient to be supportive. Rather they must be engaged, empowered and sufficiently knowledgeable to be able to lead, coach and drive the transition.
Doing, so however, requires some orientation and training which does not appear off-the-shelf from the Agile or Scrum community. To this end, I’ve created a two-day course that is designed specifically for managers and executives in such a transition. You can tell from the learning objectives that this is a serious undertaking:
1. Provide a principled, lean and flow-based product development foundation for improving competitiveness, economics and return on investment in product development
2. Introduce basic and advanced agile principles and practices as a contextual reference for a large-scale agile software development transformation
3. Introduce and experience Scrum as a potential mechanism for implementing team-level software agility
4. Introduce and explore the Agile Release Train as a means to provide strategic alignment and visibility across the enterprise
5. Introduce the agile technical and quality practices necessary for software teams to reach their highest productivity and quality potential
6. Provide a leadership framework that helps management facilitate an effective, large-scale, lean and agile transformation
Here is the abstract for the course:
It is a serious course, for serious people who understand the potential challenges, impact and competitive benefits of a lean agile transformation at enterprise scale. If this is potentially of interest to your enterprise, ping me.
Upcoming Public Lean|Agile Leadership Workshops in Australia
Most of my workshops are delivered at a client’s site. However, I do have two public workshops scheduled in Sydney (February 21-22) and Melbourne (Feb 28-29) in February 2012. You can register for these workshops through Agile University here: