Sunday, October 30, 2011

Development Managers in Agile

To understand the role of a development manager in Agile, we must first understand the difference between management and leadership.

The goal of management is to attain perfection in its processes in an effort to maximize productivity. The goal of leadership is to be an agent for change in an effort to maximize organizational sustainability through innovation and adaptability.

Although they are counteracting forces they are both required to be successful. It is as important to get things done efficiently as it is to innovate and adapt.

So how should leadership and management manifest themselves in an Agile-based organization?

From a management perspective, Agile assigns management roles through clear delineation of authority between the Agile roles, i.e. Product Owner, ScrumMaster, and Team.

Leadership is an implied attribute in Agile. Agile consciously acceptances that much of what we believe to be true will prove to be either fundamentally flawed, or, will become flawed because of real-world change. Since change is inevitable, leadership is a universal trait that is necessary for Agile entities to be successful.

A leader is often characterized as a charismatic and/or visionary manager. As I mentioned in my previous blog post, that is because most organizations are autocratic in nature and thus leaders are part the management tier.

Agile is not autocratic. There is no hierarchy. As part of this structure, it is intended that leaders emerge and assert themselves as part of the process of getting things done. This also means that leadership resides in each of the three Agile roles in a quantity that is not assigned or dictated but emerges according to need.

So if Agile groups are not hierarchical and leaders emerge naturally, then what is the role of the development manager?

The job of a development manager in an Agile organization is to promote both leadership and management; to value both within the organization; and to empower both to grow and change organically through the Agile principles. If it sounds like a development manager is more leader than manager - you are right.

I'm sure as you read this, many of you recognize command-and-control (autocracy) as a significant attribute within your workplace. Through your commitment to Agile principles, you are provided the opportunity of implementing the aforementioned organizational model - if not throughout your organization, then as a model for your organization.

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