One of the main components of our Real Agility Program for enterprise Agile transformations is the Leadership Track. This track is a series of monthly leadership meetings with one of our consultants to help them establish and operate the Agile Leadership Transformation Team. This team is based in part on the concept of a guiding coalition from John Kotter’s work (see “Leading Change“), and in part on Edgar Schein’s work on corporate culture (see “The Corporate Culture Survival Guide“) as well as our own specific experience on successful Agile transformations in organizations.
Leadership Team Membership
The very first thing, of course, is to establish who should be on the Agile Leadership Transformation Team. There are six major categories from which the team must find representatives:
- The Executive Sponsor, for example the CIO
- Business Management, for example an SVP of Sales or Product Development
- Process Management, for example the head of the PMO or Compliance
- Technology Management, for example VP of Technology or Development
- Human Resources, for example a Director of Staff Development and Training
- and Apprentice Agile Coaches / Agile Champions (managers who will sustain the change – see The Real Agility Program Management Track for more information)
In total, the number of people on this team should be no more than 12, but smaller is better.
Leadership Team Responsibilities
Once established, this Leadership Transformation Team must execute on three core responsibilities. This team stays together “forever” – these responsibilities never diminish in importance:
- Urgency and Vision: constant, strong, repetitive, prominent communication of the reasons for change and a high level view of how those changes will happen.
- Lead by Example: use of an Agile approach to run the Leadership Transformation Team’s work – we recommend OpenAgile for the process, but Kanban may also be used.
- Empower Staff: focus on removing obstacles by making structural changes in the organization, helping staff master standard Agile processes and tools, and eventually, creating innovative Agile approaches customized for the organization.
This leadership support is a critical success factor for an Agile Transformation. One of the first steps in our program for this team is to help with the creation of the team’s plan for the transformation. This plan can be derived from an number of sources including assessment work, but includes a number of standard items that must eventually be addressed for a successful transformation. At a high level, these include:
- Hiring, performance evaluation and compensation
- Reporting relationships
- What to do with project managers, business analysts, testers and certain middle managers who often struggle to fit into an Agile enterprise
- Key metrics and processes for measuring progress
- Technology and physical environment
- Vendor relationships and contracts
- Compliance, regulation and documentation
Many of these items are multi-year change efforts that need to be closely guided and encouraged by the Agile Leadership Transformation Team.
Leadership Team and Delegation
One final point about the Agile Leadership Transformation Team needs to be made: the work they do must not be delegated to subordinates. If something is part of their three core responsibilities, it must be handled directly by the members of this team. Therefore, the team members need to allocate a significant percentage of their time to the effort. Usually 20% is sufficient to get started. The proportion may wax and wane slightly over time, but if it gets too low, the Leadership Transformation Team will lose touch with the transformation and the risk of it going bad increases substantially.
If you would like help establishing an Agile Leadership Transformation Team, please contact us and we can customize our approach to your needs.
(This article is an edited version of the article that appeared on Agile Advice: Real Agility Program – Leadership Transformation Team)