Bringing Agile to the Corner Office

Agile needs to be more than how we manage a product-development needs to be the management mentality of the organization.

Here's the thing - agile is the flavor of the day (AKA management by the last book read), but the popular (business) press is missing the real story of the enabling agile. Agile needs to be more than how we manage a product-development needs to be the management mentality of the organization.

What does "Agile Management" mean... it means leadership needs the ability to act agile. The "Agile Management Manifesto" would read:

  1. Stakeholder (Investor/Customer/Employee/Regulator) satisfaction by early and continuous delivery of value
  2. Welcome changing strategic and operational requirements, even in late stages (planning/execution)
  3. New business approaches are delivered frequently (weeks rather than months)
  4. Close, daily cooperation between business people, customers, suppliers and stakeholders
  5. All activities (processes and projects) are built around motivated individuals, who should be trusted
  6. Face-to-face conversation is the best form of communication (co-location), but built to enable same-time/different place and different place/different time communications
  7. Working solutions are the principal measure of progress
  8. Sustainable change and development, able to maintain a constant pace
  9. Continuous attention to excellence and great design
  10. Simplicity—the art of maximizing the amount of work not done—is essential
  11. Best solutions emerge from self-organizing teams
  12. Regularly, the team reflects on how to become more effective, and adjusts accordingly (frequent, less formal, performance conversations)

So how do we enable this? What if we introduced a new management tool - one that was built on top of existing best-practices - like the Balanced Scorecard, Lean, Organization Design, Agile, ABC, Driver-Based-Planning, Role Clarity and added in the most agile tool of all.... the passion and engagement of every employee in the organization?

Here's how it would work:

  1. Top down / bottom up determination of strategic goals and priorities (i.e. take the best practices from the balanced Scorecard & strategy execution)
  2. Establish the linkage and impact between what I do and those goals (i.e. take best practices from lean / six-sigma and organization design / role clarity)
  3. ...and if I make better progress against a high-priority item I earn more "agile-points" (add in game mechanics)
  4. If, tomorrow, management changes their priorities, I immediately know which of my activities is now worth more (and less) (from #2, above). That instant I know where I can now earn more points. And that instant I begin doing the new thing to earn more "agile-points" (take the best elements of agile)
  5. Rinse and repeat.

In this way our clients have changed direction in a week, that previously would have taken them at least a quarter, and maybe a year (until the next planning cycle).

That is agile management.

Now all we need to do is put it into a snappy carrying case (like MyObjectives) that enables everyone to view every aspect of the agile execution:

Brett Knowles

Brett Knowles is a thought leader in the Strategy Execution space for high-tech organizations. His client work has been published in Harvard Business Review, Forbes, Fortune, and many other business publications.

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