A view on Agile Management
Imagine this: You are working as a manager at a company. You work there already for years and things are not going bad but you know there is room for improvement. You heard about Scrum, Agile, the Agile Manifesto… and you decide to learn more about it. You visit a few conferences, attend a Scrum training and yes.. this is what your company needs. You decide to implement Scrum. After many sleepless nights, headaches, success, failures, happy moments, sad moments… you wake up one morning and realize you succeeded! You did it! You implemented Scrum successful. You know it is not 100% perfect but the retrospectives are going well so you know there will be continuously improvement.
Your job as change agent is done, or at least you need to spend less time on it. But what now… what will you do as manager? You don’t need to prioritize work anymore, that is the role of the Product Owner. You don’t need to work on the process anymore, that is the role of the new Scrum Master. You are not allowed to tell the team how to organize things, the teams are self-organizing. Is your life as manager over, should you quite your job?
No worries, there is still a lot to do. In Management 3.0 we believe everyone is responsible for management. Indeed, management is a verb. It is not a role, yes in some organizations there are people who spend a lot time on management. Called managers, there is nothing wrong with that, but it doesn’t mean other people don’t have to manage. It will be your job to get other people also into management. To create an environment where not just Scrum teams but the whole organizations becomes self-organizing.
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What are the management activities in Management 3.0? What can you do? There are six areas where you need to focus:
- Energize People
- Empower Teams
- Align Constraints
- Develop Competence
- Grow Structure
- Improve Everything
Let’s take a short look at the six areas.
The most important step is to make sure people are energized. That people are engaged, motivated and happy at work. As manager you can’ tell people to be happy, you can’t tell them to be motivated. Unfortunately it is not that simple. It is your responsibility as manager to create an environment where people will be motivated and can be happy. If I ask someone how he or she is motivated, (s)he will probably say something like: “I am motivated by…” It is your job as manager, to make sure the part after “by” is there.
When all your team members are motivated, engaged and happy you can work on teams. Teams are self-organizing but would you like to delegate everything to the teams? Would you like them to decide on which office they are located, which tools they use, which color of sticky notes they use or who should get a bonus? I hope you will answer yes on most of the previous questions 🙂 But it is clear that you want to delegate as many things to the team. Keep the decision of how things should be done as close to the execution as possible. Yet, sometimes you want to keep certain decisions close to you as manager or the team wants you to be involved in some decisions. As manager you will need to think about how to delegate things to teams, and also think about how teams can delegate things to you!
You did it! The people are energized and the teams are empowered. But as Henrik Kniberg shows in this picture.
High Autonomy and low Alignment will result in something… but not sure if it will be the results you are looking for. As manager you need to make sure your teams have a vision, you need to involve them in setting defining that vision. Management 3.0 is not about Command and Control, so telling your team what the vision is, is maybe not the way to go. Additionally, you also need to think about metrics. What metrics are you going to use? Should they be connected to money? Should they be easy to understand? If you have metrics in place, you can also show the organization if you hare heading in the direction of the vision.
Eric Ries describes in his book The Lean Startup that the organization that is able to learn the fastest than anyone else will win. The world is changing faster and faster. Look back five years ago and could you have imagined products like Uber, Airbnb, etc.? To make sure your team members can keep up dealing with new technologies, they need to keep developing competence. However, telling people they have to learn a new tool is not the “optimal” way to go. People should start learning themselves, form an intrinsic motivation. It is your task, as manager, to create an environment where people are challenged to get out of their comfort zone, invited to learn and address their intrinsic motivation. Additionally, you need to have an overview of which knowledge you need. How do you show team members in which areas they need to develop?
Every organization has challenges to find good team members. One of the solutions is to search worldwide, make use of all resources available at any place. To set up distributed teams. This will give you other challenges… how do you provide feedback to team member that you never see in real life because they work in different time zones? How do you set up communication structures?
Let’s imagine you implemented the previous five areas, and you think you are done. Sorry you are wrong. You are never done. As said already, things are changing so fast nowadays. You will need to create a culture of continuous improvement. It is already partly there in your organization because of Scrum. However, it goes beyond Scrum. How do you make sure all teams and departments learn about improving things? In Management 3.0 we believe there is no silver bullet to solve a problem, so which change management techniques are you going to use to implement improvements? Will you celebrate failure or will you celebrate success? As manager you need to think about this, what would you like celebrate? Maybe not failure and success but maybe you want to celebrate learning?
I did a Management 3.0 workshop a few weeks ago and one of the attendees said at one moment… this is difficult when we talked about motivation and team members. He was correct, management is difficult and no one said it was easy. However, when you focus on the right areas as manager, you will create a great organization where people love to come. Where happiness will lead to more success! So try to answer the question I described and think about how you can implement the six areas I described.
It will be a great ride, start doing it today and have fun!