Wednesday, October 18, 2017

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Our Agile Manager… initiates and supports communities of practice

Posted by jc-Qualitystreet on 2010/12/10

First article dedicated to the responsibilities of the Agile manager, who has a major role to play in the agile adoption. At a time when the era of management 3.0 (a lean and agile management) is announced, the role manager is evolving, between opportunity and necessity
#1 Initiate and support communities of practice… which means

  • Give time and resources to agile communities, ScrumMaster, Agile coaches, Product Owner, Agile Testers, Architects, UX Groups …,
  • Give feedback on what is done by the communities of practice
  • Promote agile communities of practice in the organization
  • And why not participate and animate some communities (in a role of coordinator)

Communities of practice are an essential feature of the agile transformation programs we undertake. They are the perfect illustration of the “Yokoten” technique (the horizontal transfer of information and knowledge across the enterprise) used by Lean practionners.

Agile coaching Community of Practice

Agile coaching Community of Practice

What is a community of practice?

“Communities of practice are groups of people who share a concern or a passion for something they do and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly.” Etienne Wenger

The idea is not new, but makes sense now, at a time when companies are reconfiguring to become agile, and seek to increase the number of their dedicated, CROSS FUNCTIONAL and self-organized teams.  Communities of practice are aligned to this purpose and enable to:

  • Exchange on current practices
  • Deepen knowledge and expertise
  • Spread good ideas, practices and tools in the organization
  • Bring together people across teams or product lines
  • Coordinate and ensure the necessary consistency between the teams

Our community of practice is not a facebook like!

Its identity is built around the common interest for a specific DOMAIN and the willingness to learn. Passion, learning and commitment are the foundations of the community of practice. For example, I voluntarily belong to the “Agile Coaching” community of practice… because I am an agile coach, highly interested in the topic. But also because I want to contribute, share and discuss with other coaches (experienced or not). And, of course because I want to improve my own PRACTICES.

The same for the ScrumMaster… sometimes feeling alone, isolated within the team, he often needs to challenge himself and wants to discuss and share with the other ScrumMasters of the organization… The community of practice is primarily PRACTICES-ORIENTED, and focus on lessons learned, problems, solutions and vision. The community of practice is collective, dynamic, and collaborative. Members help each other and share information with a COMMUNITY mindset.

And the agile manager?

Communities of practice are not intended to appear in organizations chart. But even if they remain informal, they have a strong need for recognition and support.

Thus the role of the manager is crucial to face the five main challenges (organizational, managerial, community, personal and technical) related to the establishment of such communities in the company. Setting up new rules in the organization to facilitate the communities is often needed. The agile manager will also have to encourage and motivate people to participate, give feedback and handle the technical and logistics aspects to enable communities to express themselves online… and face to face. Because building a community of practice also requires solid relationships between the members, meeting physically and regularly is necessary. It has a cost and must be prepared. The openness of the community towards the outside of the company is also an important point of discussion with management.

At last, enabling the communities of practice to succeed and to flourish in the organization requires the recognition from HR and management of new collaborative skills among communities’ members. A community of practice is collective game.

For both the organization and the individual, the community of practice is the opportunity for knowledge capitalization and improvement. The communities of practice are highly valuable …  and this is the responsibility of the agile management to support and develop them!

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