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Engineering Leadership SIG: If Agile Teams Are Self-Managing, What Do Managers Do?

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  • Title: If Agile Teams Are Self-Managing, What Do Managers Do?

    Speaker: Ron Lichty

    Panel: Chris Sims, Earl Everett, Rafat Alvi, Ted Young

    Description: A common misconception about agile is that managers are unnecessary. After all, agile is based on self-organizing teams. If the teams organize themselves, what do managers do? This misconception can be a problem all around: a frequently cited barrier to agile adoption is managers who don't know what to do when their teams become self-managing. At the same time, organizations often lay down expectations of managers regarding their roles, some compatible with agile, some not..

    Agile has clearly shifted the old roles and responsibilities. Managers bent on command-and-control are an even bigger barrier to agile adoption than those treading water in a sea of ambiguity. But managers who take a hands-off approach will almost certainly stymie adoption.

    So what's a manager do? Command? Control? Influence? Facilitate?

    EL-SIG's presentation will be in four parts, the first two interactive, then a short segment on best practices and recommendations followed by a panel of first-line development managers to bring it home.

    As a team, EL-SIG will first work through an exercise of "What do engineering managers do?" (pre-agile) - and then answer the question, "OK, so what of those duties are appropriate for a manager of an agile team?"

    We'll turn to what leaders of the agile movement have recommended managers do.

    Then we'll bring on a panel of engineering leaders who have experienced the transition themselves to address the hard questions.