Agile Supporters and Allies

Agile Supporters and Allies
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!

Where to look for Agile Supporters

Agile teams are designed to be able to work independently but as an Agile Coach, Scrum Master, or Product Owner you routinely rely on assistance from outside influencers. So where can one look for these supporters and how can we engage them in helping solve our team’s problems? 

There are many ways to find Agile supporters or allies within any organization so let’s break it down into some simple strategies that you can use to guide your efforts:

  1. Follow the money: the funding of work is traceable back to a Line of Business [LOB] and likely to a sponsor or product manager within that LOB. You can use your company’s organizational chart to find people under that manager that you can approach for help in various areas like clarifying the business outcome, explaining the customer need in more detail, providing names of the project manager or the technical architect aligned with that effort.
  2. Paint the fence: remember how Tom Sawyer made painting the fence look like so much fun people paid him to let them try it? Agile is a great fence to paint. Look for opportunities to recruit Agile Allies in key areas by sharing the joys of agility. Here are a few places you should start recruiting right away: waterfall capabilities teams that support your Scrum or Kanban Teams, Tech managers whose teams are not yet Agile but who have influence over processes or systems, Project Managers are often afraid of losing their roles to Agile so take the time to recruit them by sharing how Agile roles give them increased flexibility to move their work and careers forward,  communications teams and change management are also key targets to sway to the side of agility because they can help spread the news around Agile successes.
  3. Lurk on calls: If your organization has Agile Coffees, Community of Practice Calls, Agile Weekly Updates or other widely attended Agile calls pay attention to the non-agilists that show up. Especially if they participate in the calls by asking questions or making comments. These Agile minded individuals are already interested and even engaged so reward them with admission into the Agile fold and get them to invite their friends!
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How can you make the most of Agile Allies?

In order to get the most out of your relationship with your new “Agile Allies” you need to deliver value to them. I know, that sounds like more work for you and it may well be more work but the payoff is significant. If you take the time to help someone else succeed they will pay that back 100 times by helping your teams succeed in delivering innovative products to your customers. 

We all remember the people who delivered value for us personally or professionally and we would walk on hot coals if needed to help them out of a jam. That is how partnerships are forged by doing something for others even when you don’t have to do it. As an Agile Coach, Scrum Master, or Agile Leader it is part of our job to act as an ambassador for others. Those of us who welcome guests to our party are far more fondly remembered than those who closed the velvet ropes in front of eager attendees.

What's the payoff?

In the long run the payoffs are huge:

  • Increasing the organizational appetite for agility
  • Gaining personal recognition as an Agile leader or ambassador
  • Broadening the audience for innovative ideas
  • Creating a wide network of Subject Matter Experts [SMEs] who are willing to help your team(s)
  • Raising awareness regarding the value your Agile Team(s) are delivering 
  • Organizational understanding about Agile and the benefits
  • Systems thinking on the part of those you connect with
  • Networking opportunities for you and your team(s)

I hope you agree that the juice is worth the squeeze here. There is significant value in connecting with as many people as possible within you organization and sharing your passion and goals for Agile within your company.



Joe Burroughs

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