How to Make Your Company Culture Work with Agile
Today’s engineers always search for a company whose leaders practice an innovative management approach that makes the working environment productive and supports teams to create innovation – so these companies get a large number of applications every day.
Agile was a management secret
Agile as an innovative management method appeared in Utah’s company Snowbird at the start of the new millennium, and it has proved to be a capable tool to overcome the invasive and ineffective acts of the classical management practices. They have written the one-page Agile Manifesto and the new management method was born. At that time, it was the best-kept management secret on the Earth.
In the agile software development, the client of the software product is always informed about the progress of the project and he decides (together with the team) what will be done next. The Agile software is developed during one unit of time, which is usually from 1 to 4 weeks, and it is called iteration. Each iteration is a complete software project, including requirements, design, coding, testing and documentation. The Agile started back in 2001, and by today it has produced excellent results in the software development departments of companies all over the worlds, defining the terms like Scrum, Kanban, etc.
Agile can be used in areas different than IT
The companies that have adopted agile as an everyday project management tool have dramatically improved their ability to produce complex IT solutions – regularly on time and significantly under budget. The companies from other sectors (such as marketing) wondered if they could apply the new Agile methodology into other business units. Seeing the chance to improve their performance drastically, some organizations have introduced training and workshops for their managers and staff to learn the Agile tools and practices.
An important issue that was learned during these workshops is that the main building part of the work is not the individual, but the team. This will not decrease the individual responsibility, but it will change the focus of responsibility – from the individual contributions towards the collective, team contributions. The change is important because the best value for the client will be obtained only if the team works well together. So, people will be accountable to all members of their teams, and everyone should keep their commitments, and (when necessary) help other team members.
Roles and hierarchy in the Agile approach
The adoption of the Agile approach changed the leadership model. The change of the management model can be seen almost on a daily basis; you would expect a triangle as a managing visualization, that represents the hierarchy of the top-down management. But the triangle meaning has been changed now, as it represents a network of relationships among the three main subjects, with almost equal management duties and responsibilities:
- The Product Owner, s/he is responsible for controlling the product features, i.e. the working portions that should be delivered.
- The Scrum Master, s/he is responsible for the team spirit and its dedication to the Agile practices.
- The Technical Lead, s/he is responsible for the team management, and how the work will be done. S/he also ensures that the product will be adjusted to the overall software architecture.
Organizations that have accepted the agile methodology should apply this trilateral leadership model throughout the entire company.
Visual tools in Agile
Besides the triangles, there are also other visuals that are used in organizations that have adopted the Agile approach. In the software development buildings, you will see teams working in open spaces with walls covered with post-it notes, displayed in a row that tells the stories behind their projects. Other industries have accepted the visualization as an important management concept. Visualization is a capable tool, since it clearly shows how everyone’s work is interconnected, promotes collaboration, and gives people the tools to efficiently self-organize their work.
Large corporation’s success is an engagement shared among the leaders to hire great people and leave them alone. Companies should concentrate on providing their teams with the vision, or the “what” they need, and leave the “how” to the teams. As well as provide a space where people are free to do show their best talents.