Executive support is mandatory for agile

Over the past 25 years of delivering solutions in multiple countries and multiple organisations I have never had the support from exec like I do from my current client.  From the board, to the CEO to the executive directors, to the business… we are backed and supported.

This stacks the odds of makes top down, bottom up change, success heavily in our favor.

It is common for the CEO to walk into the program room, sit down with me and ask if there is anything I need.  We receive messages of support from the board and other leaders.  Our sponsor, an Executive Director is in the program room many times a day, bringing energy, ideas and reinforcing the culture of self managed teams.

This support lifts the team and helps to create the environment that a high performing team needs.  It eases the pain incurred as we makes changes through a large gov agency.  We don’t have to waste time  ‘covering our backs’.  This exec team has fully embraced our open and transparent comms (it can be confronting sometimes).  They got excited when I stopped reporting using RAG status (Red/Amber/Green) and replaced it with a thumbs up (in control) and thumbs down (out of control) as I found too many PM’s were hiding in amber.

This support drives positive behavior.

We have a large screen that makes realtime stats available from our Jira dashboards. Our physical agile walls are visible to anyone, anytime. Our stand-ups are public.  “We hide nothing!”.

We have managed to implement agile at portfolio management level, our steerco understands the basics and are eager to know more.  The next bastion of change is the Board and now we have their confidence (a complete turn around over the past 18 months) I can now see this happening.  Agile planning and execution from board to project to bau.

Don’t get me wrong, we are still asked the difficult questions, but we know they are asked with the right intentions… and that is to fix issues, not to blame.

Our sponsor has now been tasked with rolling agile and self managed teams through the entire organisation, not just for software dev projects.

This is exciting, and this is what happens when executives are on-board with the change to agile.  This makes stakeholder management easy, no more weekly updates… they see real time updates, the good and the bad.

A twelve month experiment is now being run by a BAU team.  Hypothesis not decisions, fortnightly retros, idea walls, customer journey walls, tests… this is the result of strong leadership from the top.

When I started at this gov agency they were a ‘failed’ agile house.  All of the examples of ‘wagile’, ‘water-gile’ and other false starts were visible.  As we come to the end of the engagement, the agile evangelist in me is very proud to see agile being used across many areas of the business.

  • An innovation to implementation cycle to capture and implement innovation.
  • Kanban in IS to constantly deliver on high value items with flexibility for leaders to change direction easily and cheaply.
  • BAU teams testing hypothesis and not just blindly repeating what they have always done.
  • So many more changes.


Find yourself in this situation?  Give us a call for a chat. We love assisting companies and business leaders through this challenging time.

Steve: 0400 005 924 | 1300 851 861

#Leadership #HardButWorthIt.

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