3 Steps to Become an Awesome Agile Manager

Become an Awesome Agile Manager through TOP

Every time someone likes our post, I always ask for recommendations. Lately, I’ve received several suggestions for a post about the Agile Manager. Many of our readers are frustrated because many of their managers do not have a basic understanding of Agile and Scrum. 

When I reflected on the topic, I came up with 3 simple steps that can quickly uplift any manager to become an Awesome Agile Manager. It’s easy to remember through the acronym TOP:

Train -> Organize -> Prioritize

Step 1 – Train Everyone

Over 4 years ago, we wrote the post 5 Steps to Implement Agile. Step 1 in that post is Educate. That still is the #1 action to take. 

I’m surprised when I talk with managers who say they are Agile, yet they cannot explain what Agile means to their business and teams. I’m even more surprised when I talk to members of Scrum teams who never had any formal training or coaching.

How can any manager expect their teams to produce the benefits of Agile and Scrum without expert instruction?

How can any manager expect to become an Awesome Agile Manager without the knowledge required to lead by example?

The fastest and easiest way for managers to turn around their Scrum teams is to train everyone on Agile and Scrum. A little understanding and knowledge changes everything. At GSD Mindset, we can do that in a single day through our Scrum in 1 Day workshop. 

Take the first step to becoming an Awesome Agile Manager and get your teams the training they need.

Step 2 – Organize Your Teams for Success

Scrum is all about self-organizing teams. That means current team structure may need to change when transitioning to Scrum. With Scrum, each team is responsible for closing the Stories in their Sprint Backlog without requiring work from another team. This can be a challenge, even with matrixed organizations.

How management decides to organize their Scrum teams has a direct effect on those teams’ ability to close Stories. Scrum only has 3 roles: Scrum Master, Product Owner and everyone else is the Development Team, whether or not their job title is Developer. If managers skip Step 1 and do not train everyone, including attending training themselves, they may not be prepared to correctly organize for Agile and Scrum.

What is the best way to organize Scrum teams?

The most successful Agile Manager organizes their teams around capability or foundational applications. For example, an online retailer may decide to organize their Scrum teams around managing product, online store, inventory management, search and membership. That way, the Product Owner has control over all projects and requests for changes to their product area.

Finally, there is no Project Manager role in Scrum. The Awesome Agile Manager has to decide how products and projects will be managed across Scrum teams. This takes us to the final step: Prioritize.

Step 3 – Prioritize and Manage Across Scrum Teams

Scrum is a team sport. How the Agile Manager decides to prioritize product changes across Scrum teams is critical to a successful transition. 

If managers skip Step 1 and Step 2, even if they can prioritize projects, they may not be prepared to manage across Scrum teams. Another difference is that Scrum teams are self-organizing, and it’s the Product Owner’s responsibility to prioritize their Product Backlog. Their input must be taken into consideration.

Management may decide to keep their current project prioritization processes in place. That’s OK. However, how active projects are managed must change.

What role manages projects across teams?

How can we take advantage of the Scrum of Scrums to ensure projects stay on track?

The project tools are different, Story sizing is different and the way teams report status is different. These differences must be accounted for in management techniques. It’s not hard to manage Agile teams, it’s just different. Stay focused, stay lean and keep it simple.

The Awesome Agile Manager takes the time to train everyone (self included), so everyone understands these differences. Only then can Scrum teams be well-organized and product changes successfully prioritized and managed to increase customer satisfaction.

What other recommendations do you have for the awesome Agile Manager?

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Cynthia Kahn

Cynthia Kahn


Cynthia Kahn








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