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Why Good Managers Could Impede Agile Transformation

  • Preeth Pandalay
  • Mar 24th 2019
Agilemania Blog
Agilemania Post

Modern management was shaped by two people namely Jules Henri Fayole (Fayolism) and Fredrik Taylor (Scientific Management or Taylorism) working independently but at the same time. Gnatt also played a key role in Scientific Management. The premise on which the management that we see today is built are

  • Fayolism is based on the principle that “to manage is to forecast and to plan, to organize, to command, to coordinate and to control."
  • Scientific management is a theory of management that analyzes and synthesizes workflows. Its main objective is improving economic efficiency, especially labor productivity.

As can be seen, the focus has always been efficiency and a command and control culture. Managers are those who can forecast, plan, and then execute the plan by taking control of the team and commanding what they need to do. Managers are expected to manage work, control risk, maintain the status quo, build processes and best practices, rely on existing skills, and create goals for individual workers.

Now for a traditional organization to move to an Agile organization we are talking of creating and sharing a compelling vision, creating an urgency, empowering a lot of people, and encouraging them to make decisions. It takes more than getting the development and test teams to work together, it is about creating a momentum that makes people from various rungs of the organization want to make it happen.

A traditional management approach would, however, be to create a plan, identify tools, and devise a process which then is handed over to the teams with the goal of pushing this along and making it happen. The major intent of this plan and process is to create an orderly execution that is under the watch, motivate, control, and manage the goal by the transformation and/or executive committee.

The requirement thus is not of a manager but that of a leader. A leader who can craft the vision, challenge the status quo, build relations, lead, and coach the pro-transformation behavior.

In short, inspire actions leading to change.

In other words, Traditional management and Agile Leadership can be at loggerheads. So, to be successful the need is of Change Leadership and not Change Management.

Agilemania Blog

Preeth Pandalay

Preeth is a pragmatic coach, Professional Scrum Trainer (PST) & SAFe 5.0 Program Consultant (SPC 5.0) and is passionate about all things agile and leadership

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