Running an executive team in an Agile manner

Last post 01:57 am August 5, 2019
by Jonathan Cook
7 replies
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08:13 pm January 3, 2018

Greetings. I work with the executive team at my company and I drive the development and implementation of our full year operating plan (i.e. converting the 5 year strategy into the objectives, tactics and corporate initiatives for the next year). My boss, the COO, is aware of the company being bureaucratic and waterfall in nature, and is driving a company wide Agile initiative. We're already doing Agile in our development shops, but we want to expand it across our business (services, product, etc) and even the executive team. 

He asked me to lead his staff meetings in a "scrum style." This is a very senior audience (the COO and four executive vice presidents) who collectively manage about 3,000 people across the world.

I am a big proponent of Lean principles, and realize its about more than just using a tool and declaring yourself Lean or Agile - its a mindset as well. I'm fairly well versed in the philosophy aspect and will advocate that of course, but could really use some help with how to implement such a discipline for an executive team.  

All the books I've found are geared very much towards the building of products and are development centric. The kind of initiatives that the execs cover would be more corporate and financial in nature.   

Can you recommend any books that specifically cater to using an Agile methodology (e.g. Scrum) with an executive audience?

I appreciate your comments and recommendations! 

12:18 am January 4, 2018

Eugene,  see what you think about the Agility Guide here:

 

https://www.scrum.org/resources/agility-guide-evidence-based-change

(see "download" at bottom)

Also, Cohn "Succeeding With Agile..." book has the concept of an ETC (Enterprise Transition Committee) (or something similar)

 

01:56 am January 4, 2018

We're already doing Agile in our development shops, but we want to expand it across our business (services, product, etc) and even the executive team.

Are you sure that you are “doing agile” if current practice just encompasses “development shop” matters?

Before the organization considers the expansion of its agile initiative, does it have even one team in place which is truly self-organizing, cross-functional, and able to release valuable increments every Sprint without dependency or impediment?

Often, it is necessary to de-scale certain organizational functions before agile practice can succeed properly even in that one case. It may be wisest for executives to give this matter their careful attention first, and only then think about expanding.

02:42 pm January 4, 2018

Charles & Ian - thank you for your thoughtful response and the recommendations. The article looks good, and the book recommendation led me towards a few that I'll read. 

Ian - I take your point on "doing Agile."  There are many architects and senior engineering staff that also point this out, but they are universally pleased with the fact that management supports us becoming more agile, and that we've made tangible gains in throughput and quality since moving away from classic waterfall towards scrum, kanban, less documentation, etc. 

My challenge (and that of many, I suspect) is that I live within the constraints of a listed company with more traditional management, who have expectations that I'll start acting promptly vs. having philosophical debates about whether we're truly Agile. The good news is that they support the concept of Agile for broader roll-out (which is half the battle).

I can introduce the theory and philosophy more broadly in parallel to showing short term gains and a longer term roadmap for roll-out. For now, my focus is on the executive team and planting the seeds for longer term agility. 

04:17 pm January 4, 2018

One more question. That Agility Guide and the "path to agility" approach looks good - are there any consultants based in the USA that can perform an assessment and work on a roll-out for my company? I've been digging around on the training section but I don't see any consulting engagement options. 

08:46 pm January 5, 2018

Eugene,

Re: EBM consultant...

Right next to the "download" link for the EBM Guide, there is a "Find an Expert" link. Click on that.

09:18 pm August 3, 2019

Hi Eugene, I'm interested in this topic and have acted in a similar role, applying scrum to "leadership team ops" in concert with some traditional strategy deployment methods.  Curious to hear how your experience played out and any learnings.