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Scaled Agile management practices

Within Scaled Agile, there is significant organizational change, and managers must incorporate their leadership skills into the new way of working.

Within scaled Agile, there is significant organizational change, and managers must incorporate their leadership skills into the new way of working.

Managers oversee multiple teams who possess the cross-functional skills required to deliver end-to-end value. Since Agile teams are self-organizing and self-managing, scaled Agile managers should have the time necessary to improve operational flow or address any other issues which the manager couldn’t address previously.

Let us look at some other areas that managers should consider when scaling Agile practices.

Communicating across teams

Mutual trust is a major factor in the ability of teams to work together effectively to complete jobs. Therefore, there needs to be open and honest communication between teams.

Many experts believe that the most effective communication method is still ‘face-to-face,’ especially when utilizing shared modeling mediums such as whiteboards or flip charts. If teams are distributed across multiple locations, video conversations can facilitate discussions by offering the ability to answer questions in real-time.

When proper communication techniques are implemented, it is easier to resolve conflicts between the teams or even escalate issues, as necessary, to higher management. In this regard, it is essential for managers to communicate the needs and overall health of the teams to higher leadership so issues can be resolved efficiently.

Coordinating and integrating with multiple teams

Coordination and integration of the components of a project have added complexities within a scaled Agile environment. Multi-team coordination is sometimes needed in order to refine the product backlog, plan sprints or hold design workshops, for example. Daily scrums and scrum-of-scrums become essential between the teams, and managers need to ensure that scrums are being held and that observers report any actionable items back to the individual teams.

Managers may add component mentors to the teams to assist with mentoring and monitoring of the teams. Coordination may be enhanced through the addition of a ‘traveler,’ who joins different teams to strengthen the project network between each of the teams. This may help improve component quality by ensuring knowledge is consistent across the teams.

Managers may also provide opportunities for people working on the same components to meet in person. In this way, component team members become familiar with each other and are able to work more efficiently together. Team members are coached by management to reach out to other teams on a continual basis so issues can be resolved.

Moving from vision to division of work

Managers are responsible for defining the vision, mission, and strategy for the teams. With scaled Agile, portfolio vision takes the organizational strategy and breaks it down into investment increments that can be quickly provided to customers.

Managers are tasked with ensuring departmental standard processes and guidelines are followed. Many times this is accomplished by utilizing software-system lifecycle tools to assist in following departmental requirements. Project requirements need to be clearly defined for a continuous flow between stakeholders. The goal is to have quick feedback on requirement changes in order to reduce risk or to change project direction where required. This allows the enterprise to focus on its business goals and objectives and obtain competitive differentiation.

Facilitating resources

Along with recruiting talent, management assists in the facilitation of people and resources during projects. This is especially challenging if ‘demand’ outweighs available resources. However, where resources are easily and quickly obtained, outsourcing has become popular in that it provides for rapid escalation of organization-approved projects.

Creating a culture of learning

Managers assist in creating an Agile culture of learning, where learning can occur between team members and teams. The following are some ways that managers can help to achieve the mindset necessary for this culture to exist across the teams.

  • Assist in Developing Vision: This includes learning, risk-taking, and making mistakes in order to achieve this agile learning culture.
  • Make Space to Fail: For a rapid learning environment to exist, it is important for managers to provide an atmosphere where teams and their team members can fail. This is a safe environment where experiments and mistakes are allowed to occur without blame. This will foster individual potential and provide opportunities for their growth. Many organizations even publicly celebrate failures when attempting to establish this Agile culture of learning within their organization.
  • Provide an Environment for the Motivation to Learn: Managers can help move their team members out of their comfort zones by having them learn new skills or having them join a new team. Management may also provide recognition for employees so they feel valued. This can be done by offering rewards or possible promotion opportunities.
  • Encourage Self-Directed Learning: Managers are encouraged to have team members direct their own learning by utilizing free online resources. When project challenges arise, management may also encourage employees to research ways to find resolutions on their own rather than escalate the issues to higher levels.

What are your thoughts?

Sometimes employees have a hard time finding resolutions on their own, how can managers provide guidance to overcome this challenge?
Use the Comments section below and let us know your thoughts. Try to respond to at least one other post.

Once you are happy with your contribution, click the Mark as complete button to check the step off, then you can move to the next step in which you can participate in a discussion with your peers on bridging knowledge gaps within a team.

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Scaled Agile

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