Agile Coaching Conversations: Business Leadership and Stakeholders

Agile Coaching Conversations: Business Leadership and Stakeholders
Joe Burroughs

Joe Burroughs

Many people are frustrated by uncertainty and complexity in their jobs. I use Agile principles to provide clear and simple strategies so that you can win at work!

Agile conversations with business leaders

Agile Coaches often engage with business leaders and stakeholders during the early stages of an Agile Transformation and as new teams or product areas are being stood up. Keeping those connections and communication channels open as an ongoing dialog is crucial to establishing an Agile mindset among business leaders. In order to accomplish this you will need to offer something of value that will keep your events and appointments on their calendars. 

Agile engagement ideas for leadership

Establishing an Agile Leadership Forum or similar event on a regular cadence is a great way to share Agile practices, team or program level progress, and create an open dialog with business leaders.  Having a set agenda for each of these meetings that offers value and insight into progress will help ensure attendance and participation. Below you’ll find a list of topics to use for your engagement with business leaders. Simply pick one or two topics per call to build your agenda around.

Agile Leadership Forum Topics:

  • Agile Mindset – How thinking differently can lead to innovation and solutions
  • Waterfall vs Agile – Comparing delivery and outcomes
  • Benefits of Agile – Innovation, predictability, quality, and product fit
  • Agile Metrics – What do they measure and which ones are valuable?
  • Agile Leadership – Leadership assessment and management styles
  • Reviews and Demos – Participation in team and program events
  • Scrum vs. Kanban – A comparison of Agile frameworks
  • Scaling Agility – How an organization can maximize Agile value
  • Agile News – Updates and new thinking around agility
  • Agile Anti-Patterns – What not to do and why
  • Team Touch-Points – How to engage with an Agile team
  • A Guide to Agile Events – What they are and why they matter
  • Agile Roles and Responsibilities – Who is who in the Agile zoo
  • Progress Toward Organizational Agility – What we’re doing right and where we can improve

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Gaining leadership buy-in

Organizational goals are forefront in the mind of departmental leaders and managers. Aligning Agile benefits to those goals is the first step in gaining leadership support for agility within any organization. Maintaining that support requires nurturing that relationship with regular updates to leadership on performance directly tying agile success to achieving organizational goals. The power of an easy to understand weekly status update cannot be overstated. Give leaders and managers what they want: bite sized bullet points that show progress toward goals. Use terms they can understand and take the time to explain any Agile jargon that they may not be familiar with. Providing this on a regular weekly cadence gives leaders and managers something they can use and point to when they are asked “How are things going?” by their bosses. The easier this information is to consume the more likely it will be read and passed on to senior leadership.

Tips for Agile Teams Working Remotely

Tips for Agile Teams Working Remotely

Regain Morale • Establish Momentum • Increase Engagement

Business leadership can be your greatest source of support

If you work hard to build a strong bridge between your Agile team(s) and business leadership and stakeholders it will pay off in the long run for the entire organization. Agile is an easy sell in most cases if you think about it from the perspective of the line of business you are engaging. For example from a pure Agile standpoint the greatest advantage of Scrum may be the ability to innovate and deliver what the customer wants as they want it. However, from the line of business perspective predictability may be a more valuable characteristic of Scrum as leaders can expect to receive a consistent or improving rate of product delivery at a set level of investment with a persistent team or program. 

Looking at agility through the lens of the line of business is a key skill of the enterprise level Agile Coach. It is one way you can begin to set yourself apart from the rest and stand out as a true Agile Leader!

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