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The Value of Slack with Andrew Fuqua

Dave Prior Senior Consultant/CST-CRM Specialist
Reading: The Value of Slack with Andrew Fuqua

In Andrew Fuqua’s blog post “Slack and the Agile Manager’s Role: Be the Slack” he shared his thoughts on the need for management to make space and time for teams and individuals to be creative and innovative. In this podcast Andrew and Dave Prior dig deeper on the topic, how and why organizations resist it, and how managers can get started with introducing time to allow teams to be innovative.

Show Notes

00:15 Podcast Begins
00:48 Some background on Andrew’s work as an Enterprise Consultant
01:47 Introducing the topic of Slack
02:05 How the PMBOK defines slack
03:00 How Andrew defines slack and what he focuses on when he’s looking at it
04:12 Why wringing all the slack out of a team is not necessarily a good idea
05:00 Finding the slack you need to keep
05:44 Flow Trumps Waste and Value Trumps Flow
06:56 When you see downtime, what do you lose when you feel compelled to fill it up?
07:44 Whose job is it to create an environment and culture that supports creativity?
08:33 Why it goes beyond the responsibilities of a ScrumMaster
09:24 Someone is going to come along and eat your lunch!
09:43 Why organizations forget to take the time to be innovative
10:40 Why it is about more than simply holding innovation days.
12:18 What’s the manager supposed to do in Agile anyway?
12:54 How we end up with managers who do not know how to manage and like to crack the whip
14:09 Creativity also needs sustainable pace
15:26 Making space for creativity every single day
16:31 The manager shouldn’t be delivering stuff
17:07 Taking personal responsibility for protecting your own space/time to be innovative
17:43 How Andrew creates and protects the innovation space for himself
19:08 Time spent recovering from working at an unsustainable pace is not the same as slack time set aside for innovation
20:09 How Managers can introduce Slack
22:05 How much slack should I make sure each person has and how do I track it?
22:42 How do you become a change agent that will transform an organization to support Agile?
23:18 Focusing on Lead Time to help the organization understand what needs to change
23:53 Is the best way to create change changing the CEO
24:09 What a manager can do to understand Slack more
24:47 How do we get more creativity in the organization
25:13 Happiness Metrics, Employee Retention and taking a baseline before introducing Slack
25:51 Autonomy, Mastery, Purpose
26:56 Things a Manager Should Not Do
29:02 Beware the Hero
29:58 Parting words of advice for a manager who is trying to understand how to let Slack live in their environment
30:42 How to reach Andrew

Links from the Podcast

Slack and the Agile Manager’s Role: Be the Slack
Slack: Getting Past Burnout, Busywork and the Myth of Total Efficiency by Tom DeMarco
How to Use an A3 In An Agile Transformation

Contacting Andrew

You can reach Andrew via LeadingAgile at
On Twitter at
On LinkedIn at

Contacting Dave

You can reach Dave on the LeadingAgile site at
On Twitter at
Or on his personal site at:


If you have comments on the podcast, or have questions for the LeadingAgile coaches that you’d like to have addressed in a future episode of LeadingAgile’s SoundNotes, you can reach Dave at

LeadingAgile CSM and CSPO Classes

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Use the discount code: LA_Podcast to receive a 15% discount on the class.

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