If you get a few minutes to talk to your executives about agile… you’ve got to be really crisp about what you are asking for and why.
Far too often people get that few minutes and totally fail to explain why agile is important and why their executives should care.
If you have an opportunity to speak to your leadership team about agile, here are the four things you need to be able to communicate.
1. Show deep understanding of the problems that your executives are trying to solve. Not the problem YOU want to solve, but the problems that THEY are trying to solve.
2. Explain specifically what about the current organization is contributing to these problems and how doing more of the same isn’t likely to lead to a different outcome.
3. Explain the specific changes you’d like to make in the organization. You have to be VERY specific. You can’t tell people to think differently. You have a shot at asking them to behave differently.
4. Make a specific ask for permission… to do a specific action… to prove that your approach to solving the problem could work. Let the executive know specifically what kind of support you need.
You need to be able to do this in about 10 minutes. Here is an example.
1. I deeply understand that we are struggling as an organization to make and meet commitments and get product to market in a timely manner. Our competition is moving faster and taking market share.
2. Our problem is that people are spread too thin across too many initiatives. People are unable to estimate accurately, and when they do, the constant context switching is slowing them down.
3. I’d like to try an experiment where we form a complete cross functional team. Help the team prepare a really clear backlog and we’ll help them produce a working tested increment every couple of weeks.
4. Could I get your support to form a team around our new product. We’d like to use a method called Scrum to manage the team’s work and in three months we’ll be able to get a prototype ready for market.
Obviously, this is an oversimplified example, but I think you get the idea.
Walking into the C-Suite and telling them they don’t get it… that they need to change… that they need to empower people…that they need to let folks self-organize… IMO, doesn’t really cut it.
Just a quick comment as we close… if you don’t understand your executives problems, you don’t have a clear point of view about what is specifically broken, you don’t have a clear plan for how to fix it, and you don’t know how to ask your executive to take action…