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Becoming an agile manager: not only an opportunity …

Posted by jc-Qualitystreet on 2010/12/05

But also a necessity!

The era of agile and lean management (see Management 3.0: Being an Agile Manager) is announced, and many factors contribute to the awareness and the birth of a sense of urgency that can serve as a starting point of willingness to change to lead middle managers to become agile managers.

The Agile Manager: Leadeship & Facilitation

The Agile Manager: Leadeship & Facilitation

The Enterprise environment

Fast, complex, competitive, changing, the external environment impacts the company itself. Pushed to review its governance, processes and valuable assets, the organization must also differentiate itself from its competitors in terms of knowledge, information sharing, skills and career management. The agile and lean enterprise is an obvious answer to these challenges, and middle managers, first line for these activities, have a major role to play. Whether supporting or opposing, they will be highly impacted by the fundamental changes introduced by an agile and lean approach.

The Rise of agility

Agile methods have spread into projects and in the everyday business life of people. Very popular in IT projects, agility is now everywhere and difficult to avoid. Managers can’t ignore it anymore. Moreover to understand what people actually do and how IT teams work, middle management will require the appropriate level of agile information and training… first steps toward change?

Concrete and visible results

It’s also difficult for middle management to ignore the benefits provided by Agile methods. Agility enables organization to reduce time to market, to improve product quality, to increase project visibility and productivity. Better team satisfaction and better end-user satisfaction are also observed. Agile methods have shown their efficiency and proved that it worked. Ten years after the Agile Manifesto, birth of Agility, agile and Lean practices continue to spread at a « unsustainable » pace 🙂 With the appropriate level efforts, an agile and lean approach gives fantastic results. So, why not applying some of these good practices and using them as a source of inspiration for management activities?

People expectations

Of course some needs and expectations of working people (achievement, recognition, empowerment…) are not new but the agile mindset is! An agile mindset grows within team members working with agile methods, and changes their relationship with others, with work and with their company.  Collaboration, courage, feedback, simplicity and respect, the fundamental agile values are now also expected outside of the agile team, and primarly with middle management and hierarchy. Trust and feedback will be the keys.

From a generational point of view, the rapid growing of digital natives (people born after 1978) inside companies also changes the face of the enterprise and how the businesses operate. Digital natives need real time interactions & collaboration, networks, communities and a new management style. Once again, I have the feeling that agile management is a very good option to address the needs of this specific population.

HUMANITY, FACILITATION, COLLABORATION and LEADERSHIP seem to be the key characteristics of the AGILE MANAGER. And inspiration can be easily found in these few principles of lean management:

  • Base your management decisions on a long term philosophy… even at the expense of short-term financial goals
  • Grow leaders… who thoroughly understand the work, live the philosophy, and teach It to others)
  • Develop exceptional people and teams… who follow your company’s philosophy
  • Respect your partners and suppliers... by challenging them and helping them improve
  • Go and see for yourself… to thoroughly understand the situation
  • Make decisions slowly by consensus… thoroughly considering all options implement rapidly
  • Become a learning organization... through relentless reflection (Hansei) and continuous improvement (Kaizen)

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