Concrete Practices for Agile Managers (Part 1)

I was reading Jerry Weinberg’s book Becoming a Technical Leader last week, and I came across his advice to start a journal and write for five minutes per day. The advice was so clear and simple, I decided to implement it right away.

The reason for writing in a journal is to help yourself with self-reflection. But Jerry didn’t tell his readers to “do some self-reflection”. Instead he wrote we should “keep a journal”. Jerry understood that people need concrete steps to perform in order to learn how to achieve an outcome that is otherwise too abstract to grasp.

That is why, more than a week ago, I asked What Are Best Practices for Managers? I asked for concrete practices instead of abstract values or principles, because without learning which simple small steps to take, managers will find it too hard to achieve the desired outcome: an Agile organization.

The suggestions I received where quite interesting. Not only because I got to read about some practices I had never heard of before. But also because many of the suggestions were still (in my humble opinion) too high-level and too abstract. It confirms my experience that most people don’t know what Agile managers should do from day to day. This just leaves managers with well meant but non-actionable advice such as “make yourself obsolete” and “trust the team”.

But, as I said, I did receive a number of good suggestions. And I will list my favorites here:

  • Use the ROTI criteria (Return On Time Invested) at the end of each meeting (Gaetano Mazzanti)
  • Use the A3 problem solving approach (Benjamin Mitchell)
  • Regularly organize FedEx Days (Rob van Lanen)
  • Reserve a fixed percentage of slack time for learning and leisure (Jorge Diz)
  • Try a collaborative hiring approach that involves the whole team (André Faria Gomes)
  • Publicly list the impediments you will solve on your door (Rini van Solingen)
  • Maintain physical proximity to your teams (Antonio Lucca)

These were the concrete practices for Agile managers among the blog comments I liked best. With just a few instructions people will understand how to perform them. Just like I understood how to write a journal!

I will send a free copy of my book to Benjamin, Jorge and Antonio, because I added their suggestions to the backlog of the Management 3.0 course. (Which also happens to be a concrete practice for managers!)

Can you name any more specific practices for Agile managers?

If not, why don’t you start writing a journal? It might help you to reflect on what is happening with you and around you. 🙂

(Jurgen Appelo is author of Management 3.0, a best-selling management book for Agile developers. It has a picture of a monster in it.)

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  • Fabrice Aimetti

    Hello Jurgen,
    Thank you for this great post which give the morale! I have translated it into French :
    Regards, Fabrice

  • Martien van Steenebrgen

    Hoshin Kanri might be another A3-type tool for managers to set long-term direction, strategy and short-term milestones.

  • Keylogger

    This is really very good post. These practices are beneficial for every manager for their career growth. Thanks for sharing this article with us.

  • aniket mhala

    BDD ( Build Daily Dashboard)
    (B)ecome (D)aily (D)ecison Maker

    The daily project status information ( honesty is the best policy), its understandings and its flow (availability) to the all required stakeholders is important to provide the transparency,visibility and helps to take corrective actions and plan for preventive actions (if any required)

    The BDD (Build Daily Dashboard) practice helps Managers and others to Become Daily Decisions makers for Better and Faster results.

    Everything is based on decision and decisions are based on logic and logic is based on thinking and information availability, its understanding and its right depth.

    The BDD is not just BurnDown Graph, it is Decision Making
    tool to be used by Managers to act on daily basis as he is the creator, and daily information provider to wider audience.

    In short BDD ensures that Managers is the owner of Project
    health information and he must be RFT (Right First Time) to build it and become daily decision maker with other stakeholders for better and faster results.

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