Topics for the Executives (managers)

I was brainstorming what kinds of topics or exercises the executives (or senior managers) need. This also includes things for the managers close to teams, but it is not especially for them. OTOH, we’re not addressing the CEO of JP Morgan Chase, either. In an example with that kind of firm, we mean the ‘executive’ or head of a unit of the firm, with maybe 150 people reporting to her or him.

Here is what I came up with in a time box. Not everything, not perfect, but I think some good ideas.

The List

  1. Team self-organization and leadership
  2. The basics of Scrum (We maybe start with this, and also end with this.)
  3. Reducing the negative impact of the matrix
  4. Management is required with Scrum (but a different kind)
  5. How to use the new levers of control (and how not to use the old levers)
  6. Letting the teams fail (some) and guiding them toward self-management
  7. How big the Agile transformation is, and why it is hard
  8. Let’s draw the ‘future’ organizational picture (future = six months from now)
  9. Business side vs. technology side (going from distrust to collaboration)
  10. Influencing better collaboration with the business side
  11. Is it going to be a struggle to have dedicated teams?
  12. How do we manage the chickens? (The people and groups who must support the Scrum Teams.)
  13. How do we manage to get less Scrum-Butt?
  14. What are our biggest impediments now? (The list mostly should come from the teams, but let’s get their thoughts now.)
  15. Can we have an Impediment Removal Team? Can we have a Management Scrum Team? Can we have an Executive Action Team?
  16. How do we organize the chickens to get greater agility (faster release delivery)?
  17. Focus and Deliver; a.k.a. minimizing the interruptions and distractions of ‘other work,’ stopping the ‘death by project switching’
  18. Minimizing WIP to speed the delivery of finished releases
  19. Using the new metrics
  20. Management must help fix some impediments (people, money, approval, hard work)
  21. How do we learn to double our Velocity (productivity)?
  22. Scaling: First, do we really need it? Second: KISS.
  23. KISS. More generally: It is important to keep things as simple as possible.
  24. Getting the right Product Owners and ‘Business Stakeholders’ (people who will give good feedback every two weeks)
  25. Leading change. Most executives are bad at this; to be fair, it is very hard. Engaging everyone in the change
  26. Influencing the cultural change
  27. The Agile adoption backlog (adaptive action list)

If we educated the executives on these topics and they started taking more effective action, could it make a difference?

Your comments please.



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2 thoughts on “Topics for the Executives (managers)

  1. Gary Evans

    Here’s are two key points for management, Joe:
    1. “The goal of Agile is not to suck less.”
    2. Agile is faster to value, not necessarily faster to market.

    Gary K Evans

    1. Joe Little Post author

      Hi Gary,
      Great points. I’d like you to explain them more (although to be fair, my points were said much too quickly).
      1. (Of yours). Yes, much too often we aim too low. Perhaps every time in large organizations, that can’t seem to change on a $1 billion, much less a dime. (So, one understands why they may set expectations low.) What we get is often decent, or a notable improvement (say, 20%). But we could have made a number of people’s lives much much better, be they customers or workers or managers. For example, I don’t think it is really hard to deliver 5x more value. It is a lot of work (in changing and fixing things), but not fundamentally hard.
      2. (yours). I would hope usually we are faster to market also (better Time To Market (TTM)). I think what you mean is: what we give to the market is much more likely to be something that the customers want, or want more. True. But a good PO should be delivering also more frequently to the market (what I mean by TTM) too. Now, that depends on many factors, including how many mistakes we make, how high the quality is, how much more we see and address the real complexities, etc, etc. So, to speak of a large financial institution with HQ in Charlotte, I could imagine that TTM is not always better, but value (per unit of investment) should be.

      I guess we need to say that TTM can be gamed. That is, we can deliver ‘something’ more frequently. But of course it must be an MVP or Minimum Marketable Feature Set. It must be something really wanted (one of the top things). And it must be high quality. If we violate those constraints (and maybe quality is not explained enough), then faster TTM is rather meaningless. Of course, I do not mean to suggest that metrics are ever gamed in large orgs! (smile)

      Welcome your further comments. Thx, Joe

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