Why are managers there at all?

Just recently my colleague and friend Zoran Vujkov has drawn my attention to the following clip discussing trends in adoption of agile in large companies. I recommend the clip for watching if you already haven’t.

Among a lot of information about the speed of agile adoption and critical factors for it, one thing caught my eye – importance of executive sponsorship.

No doubt, this is a very important factor. However, it might be misinterpreted and misused  by managers. One of the crucial roles of management in Agile organization is to remove obstacles or impediments that are preventing their teams from being efficient  in their work.

While this seems obvious, it does happen that managers start being involved into operational things, tactical decisions, even trying to influence, or limit product owners’ roles by making operational decisions and leading the product.

This is potentially very dangerous situation as this sort of behavior can be concealed behind the veil of good intentions which sometimes it undoubtedly is (you know the one about the road to ruin being paved by good intentions). Urged by desire to show to the teams that they are committed to agile way of work, managers become a burden and an obstacle.

I’m not gonna go into the role of management in agile setup, there’s a good article here on the topic.

Here, I would like to remind managers that their role is not to control, direct, create tasks or organize their teams’ daily work. Their main role in agile way of work is to help team develop, create proper environment for the team, set strategic guidelines, believe in their teams and give them freedom to organize their work in the best way they need, know and can.

Only with such a help, teams (and with them the whole organization) can be agile.

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