Agile Management Workshop

Agile Management is the missing ingredient to complement Agile development. Self-organizing teams need managers to be Agile too! This workshop teaches them how.

Yesterday was an important day. At the Scrum Gathering in Amsterdam I organized the first session of my 2-day Agile Management workshop. And it went as well as I could hope for.


43 people participated in 5 exercises (about 30 minutes each), and each of the exercises was preceded by a small presentation (of about 10 minutes). People told me that they most enjoyed the “Delegation Poker Game,” where players get to decide how far they dare to go when delegating authority to a team.


Agile-management-evaluations After every exercise I asked people to evaluate it with sticky notes. At the end of the workshop I had an entire wall full of colorful feedback. There were smiley faces and thumbs-up among them, but also great comments that I will use to further improve and expand the workshop.


My Agile Management course is still in development. The session at the Scrum Gathering was the first limited try-out. I expect the full Agile Management course will be ready in January. And I’m happy to announce that no less than 10 workshops have already been planned in six European countries, all of them scheduled by various professional training partners.


The topics that were addressed in today’s workshop at the Scrum Gathering together form about 40% of the final course. They included…

Black-swan Complexity Thinking: Acknowledge that software development teams are complex adaptive systems, in terms of predictability and planning, and recognize problems arising from complexity.

Intrinsic-desires-acceptance The 10 Intrinsic Desires: Understand which intrinsic desires drive the behavior of employees, and use that information to discover a mismatch between people’s intrinsic desires and corporate management systems.

Authority-levels-agree The Delegation Game: Use the seven levels of authority to delegate responsibilities to people, and develop intuition in determining what authority levels there are, and how to use them in which situations.

Agile-goals-realistic Agile Goal Setting: Understand how goal setting in an agile environment is different from traditional goal setting, and use that knowledge to define context-dependent goals according to different criteria.

Competence-development Competence Development: Understand the different options a manager has in order to develop competence in a team or organization, and apply these options in different strategies to tackle competency problems.

Value-networks The Value Network Game: Understand that organizations perform best when they are grown and managed as networks, and draw organizations not as static hierarchies but as dynamic networks.

These six examples are the first of what will be a 2-day workshop of +/- 15 games and exercises. A large part of the course will be based on the Management 3.0 book. And yes… I plan to give participants a free copy of it!

Let me know if you’re interested…


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  • Scott F

    Is part of the problem with software management that the majority of the managers are former programmers themselves? Programmers rely on a certain predictability within the code they right if not within the environment they must operate. Heck, this may even be what attracts people to software development; an element of creativity to be sure but an element of control as well.

  • Sigi Kaltenecker

    Hi Jurgen,
    The two of us have been part of your deep dive workshop in Amsterdam. As we all have been too busy and/or socially distracted during the Gathering, we didn´t manage to talk to each other personally. Since we believe in the value of feedback we would like to provide some in written form instead.
    1. To get an easy start, let´s just assure that we are with you on the importance of management in an agile environment. As guys with interest both in management and consulting, and as co-editors of the platform for agile management we were very much looking forward to the deep dive workshop in Amsterdam.
    2. What we experienced in this workshop, however didn´t meet our expectations. On the one hand, what you presented was very general, more of an introduction for newbies than a compelling concept that helped us better understand what agile management is all about; on the other hand we didn´t figure out how the games were meant to relate to the input.
    3. To be honest, it felt more like a sequence of relatively loose coupled activities. It was a little bit like being a crash test dummy or as the notorious guinea pigs, working out – as you once stated – your marketing material.
    4. To point out some open questions that occurred to us:
    a. Why was systemic organizational theory/systemic mgmt & consulting not part of your overview?
    b. Why were there examples in which we should define an organizational structure top-down as leaders, without even consulting our staff? Would that not be detrimental to the leadership principles you just proposed? (And as far as we are concerned, to all practical experience we have as leaders and OD consultants)
    c. What is the substantial innovation that let you call it Management 3.0?
    d. What, beside some well-known principles of staff empowerment, links this theoretical overview with “agile”?
    Still, we are looking forward to your forthcoming book. We assume that it will provide a lot of answers. We definitely plan to review it – as we already have done with Lyssa´s and Rachel´s/Liz´books see &
    Moreover, we´d like to invite you to discuss our review and are happy to learn what kind of format would suit you (only written comments? Skype interview? Video? …?)
    Jurgen, we hope you take on the discourse! 

  • Jurgen Appelo

    Hi Sigi,
    I appreciate the time you took to give me feedback. However, I’m afraid the return on investment is low. In its current form the feedback is not very helpful to me because it doesn’t give me a clear direction.
    The deep dive session was a preview of an unfinished course that is in development. And the session was only 5 hours, while the full course will be 2 days. It is like giving 50 pages of draft material of an upcoming book to someone, and then receiving the question “Why does the book not describe X and Y?”
    I would _love_ to know from you what the finished course should look like, in your opinion. But then I need something more than “systemic organizational theory” because “systemic organizational theory” is undefined. (It has no useful search results on Google.)
    I very much look forward to a discussion about this, and learn how I can improve, but this might be easier to do via Skype.

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