As an Agile Executive, you have many responsibilities:
- You must ensure an appropriate Agile working environment. This means not skimping on equipment. More importantly, you must create an environment that rewards honesty and clarity. You must create an organization where anyone is free to deliver bad news without fear of disapproval. Honesty is the basis of Agile development.
- You must create an environment that values providing utility to the end-user. You must ensure that your team has access to end-users (sometimes called “customers”, although in government work the final stakeholder is rarely a paying customer.) The end-user must be valued more highly than other stakeholders. The software is not being written so that an Executive can track it, but to provide service to the end-user.
- You must make mature decisions. This means making rational decisions instead of emotional ones, based on the good of the end-user rather than appearances.
- As the Executive, you are in the best position to pay attention to the big picture. This means that you must make sure your strategic goals are properly matched with serving your customers. It is your responsibility to ensure that what the Engineering team is doing stays true to your organization’s objectives.
- Make sure that your directors and managers are actively fostering an Agile environment, and are insisting on a user-focus.
How Agile Will Feel
When you are becoming more Agile, you should expect to have some trouble. This table will you give you an idea of how this growth process will feel.
|Activity||Why||You know it’s working…||How it will feel|
|Shifting to burndown charts||To make good management decisions based on accurate progress||When you truly understand the impact of your decisions on your schedule||Like a rusty wheel beginning to turn smoothly as you regain control of your organization|
|Agile procurement||To de-risk giant projects||When you start seeing software in the first quarter||Like leaping off a cliff and finding that you actually can fly|
|Using formal sprints||A consistent rhythm of valuable habits will keep focus on progress and users||When people perform sprints without fuss||Like starting a new exercise program, and watching yourself grow in strength due to consistency|
|User Focus instead of Contract Focus||Nobody is smart enough to know what the user wants without focusing on the user||When you are surprised to learn that the user seeks something different than your supposition||Like looking for your keys and realizing they have been in your hand all along|