Leadership undoubtedly plays a large role in helping Agile succeed. Here are five ways that leaders can help enable the success of an Agile program.
Create the right kind of environment
Creating an environment where people can take risks, experiment, fail and learn is extremely important if teams are going to continuously improve. An environment where people are afraid to make mistakes is an environment that is bound to fail. Leaders should help create a workplace that is fun, but where people are motivated and accountable.
Remove organizational impediments
It is critical that leaders help remove organizational impediments so that teams are not slowed down and can be as high performing as possible. This starts with identifying impediments, whether it’s establishing a communication channel to elicit feedback from teams or having an Agile coach provide insight. Next is taking action to remove the impediments. There’s a cumbersome change request process in place that is slowing down the delivery of products? Leaders need to find a way to change or eliminate that process. Teams are spread out on three different floors? How can leaders relocate the team so they all sit within earshot of each other?
One important aspect of Agile is transparency. From knowing what backlog items are being worked on to having a clear definition of done, transparency adds clarity and trust. Leadership should lead by example by being transparent and therefore providing clarity to their teams and building trust within the organization. Even if being transparent reveals some dysfunction, that’s good because now that dysfunction can be addressed.
Communicate the vision
Even self-organizing teams that are working hard to finish their sprint goals need to come up for air and make sure they are headed in the right direction. Leadership should be communicating the overall organizational vision so that the team can understand how they fit into that view. Another important part of the communication loop is listening and welcoming questions and feedback.
Trust the team and get out of the way
Teams will perform better when they are not micromanaged and told how to do their work. They are on the team because they are good at what they do and the team is using Agile so they can perform at higher level – so leaders need to get out of the way and allow teams to unlock their true potential. You will be surprised what your teams can do if you just give them the tools to succeed.