Editor's Note: Take a look at our featured best practice, Agile Product Development Playbook for Executive Leadership (53-slide PowerPoint presentation). *Why Agile & Design* Overview of agile principles such as delivering customer value, embracing change, cross-functional collaboration, fast feedback cycles Summary of design thinking principles - focus on user needs, rapid iterative prototyping, tolerance for failure. Explanation of why agile [read more]
Are you Ready to be an Agile Manager?
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An Agile Manager provides the basic framework for organizations to cope with today’s volatile customer driver marketplace. Being agile is being able to master continuous change. An organization can be agile. But it needs to have a dynamic Agile Manager.
Today’s critical times call for traditional managers to take on an agile mindset. Traditional manager must learn to redefine their roles. Only then will transformation be successful in ensuring a sustainable systemic change towards having an Agile organization.
What is an Agile Organization?
An Agile organization is 28% more successful than traditional organizations. Being agile means being able to master continuous change. It is driven by a multidisciplinary team that can respond swiftly and promptly to rapidly changing opportunities and customer demands.
To be an Agile organization, companies need to be empowered with Agile mindset. A shift in mindset is the fundamental element of success.
Understanding the Agile Mindset
Having an Agile mindset is having the ability to adapt swiftly to unpredictable trends. These unpredictable trends are those that can disrupt or reshape the industry. An Agile mindset is dynamic and far different from traditional mindsets when approaching the changing business horizon.
An Agile mindset can be a strategic North Star that is embodied across the organization. In an environment of scarcity, traditional leaders succeed by capturing value from competitors, customers, and suppliers for company’s shareholders. Leaders with Agile mindsets recognize the abundance of opportunities and resources available. Success is achieved by co-creating value with and for all the company’s stakeholders.
An Agile mindset is a game changer. In the world where competition has become stiff, a game changer has become a giant force to beckon with.
Recreating Agile Leaders with Agile Mindsets
In the past 5 years, the need for Agile management has become more intense. People do not need managing. Processes and overarching systems do. Hence, Agile Managers are considered caretakers of the human system and the organization. They play a critical role in achieving a successful agile transformation and business agility.
The Chapter Leader
Chapter Leaders focus on jobs that call for leadership and creative talents. They are Capability Builders and Coaches. As Capability Builders, they build up the right capabilities and people. Chapter Leaders equip people with the skills, tools, and standard approaches to deliver functional excellence.
As Coaches, they evaluate, promote, coach, and develop people but without the traditional direct oversight. As Chapter Leaders, they must not be involved in the day to day work of squads. Micromanaging is a faux pas.
The Tribe Leader
The Tribe Leader acts as true General Managers or mini CEOs. Tribe Leaders are Value Creators and Strategists. As Value Creators, Tribe Leaders focus on value creation, growth, and serving customers. They need to determine what work needs to get done, how much to invest in which efforts, and how to prioritize opportunities.
As Strategists, Tribe Leaders must be strategic in perspective as they have profit and loss accountability. Strategic Tribe Leaders have a cross functional view of the core capabilities of the broader organization and an integrated perspective of the company as a whole and how their part of the business fits in with the larger enterprise.
The Squad Leader
Squad Leaders serve a crucial purpose in the Agile matrix. They are both Orchestrators and Team Builders. As Orchestrators, Squad Leaders help plan and orchestrate execution of the work.
As Team Builders, they strive to build a cohesive team
Conquering the Bumpy Road Ahead: The Challenges
An Agile Manager will face several challenges as he takes on the 3 critical roles. Needless to say, however, being able to overcome these challenges will lead the Agile Leader towards achieving greater leadership potential.
- The challenge of letting go of the day to day focus. This is the most difficult challenge for new Chapter Leaders.
- The challenge of shifting attention from micromanaging to developing the right business strategies, setting the right objectives and priorities, and making the right business decisions.
- The challenge of resisting the need to build your own set of resources and creating shadow functions. Continuing this will scuttle the Agile matrix.
- The challenge of leading without exerting onerous control. This is the greatest challenge of a new Squad Leader.
Squad Leaders can grow into Tribe Leaders. It is one decision that Squad Leaders can take. On the other hand, Squad Leader can continue as individual contributors that have developed leadership skills. Either way, it is a challenge worth conquering with rewards so great.
Agile Managers can design breakthrough Agile environments. Companies just need to empower the Agile Manager as they play an integral role in organizational change and growth.
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About Joseph RobinsonJoseph Robinson is the Vice President of Strategy at Flevy. Flevy is the marketplace for best practices in business management. Learn how the Fortune 100 and global consulting firms do it. Improve the growth and efficiency of your organization by leveraging Flevy's library of best practice methodologies and templates. The documents at Flevy (https://flevy.com) are of the same caliber as those produced by top-tier management consulting firms, like McKinsey, BCG, Bain, and Accenture. Most were developed by seasoned executives and consultants with 20+ years of experience. Flevy covers 200+ management topics, ranging from Digital Transformation to Growth Strategy to Lean Management. You can peruse a full list of management topics available on Flevy here. Prior to Flevy, Joseph worked as an Associate at BCG and holds an MBA from the Sloan School of Management at MIT. You can connect with Joseph on LinkedIn here.
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