How Agile Killed Managers

Agile adoption has changed the corporate landscape in many different ways. And while the change has been mostly positive for the teams, some can see Agile and Scrum ideas as a revolt against the traditional management practices. If the team is self-organized, what’s the manager’s role? Uncertainty leads to confusion and fear, stress and distrust. Managers who don’t understand the spirit of Agile, who cling to their titles and try to preserve the chain of command, can sabotage and hurt the Agile transformation. During the talk we will discuss different ways managers can become an obstacle during Agile transformation, and what they should do instead to help the teams grow to their full potential and be successful. We’ll see how the manager’s role has changed over time, what they have lost in the transition, and how their fear and insecurities can lead to management dysfunctions. We’ll review examples of how managers can ruin the agile spirit, and then take a look into ways managers can boost agile transformation and become true leaders.

At the end of the session you'll understand the conflicts and dilemmas that make your managers behave like they do, you'll learn how become a great Agile manager and how to help your manager to turn into an awesome Agile leader. You'll also have a better idea on what to expect from Agile transformation, how roles will change over time and what you can do to make it successful.

I am a Director of Software Engineering and I'm speaking from experience of being a manager in Agile world. 

2 favorite thumb_down thumb_up 2 comments visibility_off  Remove from Watchlist visibility  Add to Watchlist

Outline/structure of the Session

* Once upon a time... What managers used to be - 5 min

* The challenge and the drama: how Agile changed managers' lives -  10 min

* The history lessons: it happened before, what does it mean for us today? - 5 min

* The way forward: agility, how can managers lead the technical transformation? - 10 min

* The way forward: leadership, what can managers can give to the teams? what can we all do to be leaders? - 10 min

* Wrap up and lessons learned: 5 min

Learning Outcome

* Learn techniques of navigating corporate world and getting resources for Agile transformation

* Understand importance of agility over "Agile" process

* Understand importance of leadership over "management"


Target Audience

All: individual contributors, managers, Agile coaches, Scrum masters, POs, etc.

schedule Submitted 1 year ago

Comments Subscribe to Comments

comment Comment on this Submission
  • George Dinwiddie
    By George Dinwiddie  ~  1 year ago
    reply Reply

    Hi, Katy,

    Your proposal doesn't give reviewers enough information about the session to make a judgement.

     - George

    • Katy Sherman
      By Katy Sherman  ~  1 year ago
      reply Reply

      Hi George!

      Thanks for your feedback. I have updated the description, please let me know what else I can do to make it more informative.


  • Liked Colleen Johnson

    Colleen Johnson - End to End Kanban for the Whole Organization

    45 Mins
    We often look to our engineering teams first to drive efficiency and speed to deliver but as we optimize the flow of our development processes we quickly create pressure in the organizational workflow with the activities that feed into and out of product delivery.  Product definition struggles to keep pace and establish a queue of viable options to pull from.  Marketing efforts begin to pile up as features release faster than we can share the news.  All of this stems from optimizing only one part of the overall system.  In this talk we will look at how to scale Kanban practices to the entire organization to provide the visibility, flexibility and predictability to make every part of the business truly agile.  
  • Liked Chris Murman

    Chris Murman - Things Are Broken: A Case Study In Moving Tooooooooooo Fast

    Chris Murman
    Chris Murman
    Sr. Agile Consultant
    Solutions IQ
    schedule 1 year ago
    Sold Out!
    45 Mins
    Experience Report


    It's been a driver in our industry before it was even an industry. The more Agile becomes more mainstream, the more we think it's part of the package. Books are out promising that certain frameworks can deliver twice as much in half the time. And yet, teams still struggle delivering what's expected of them.

    Once I started asking people of all levels of leadership what they thought speed would give them, it allowed me to develop some experiments around those expectations.

    Please join me for a case study where we discuss the need for speed, the origins of that desire, and the ways it manifests itself into deliverables. My desire is for the audience to take away some powerful learning into their places of work. Only by understanding the expectations around speed can we reset them into an environment built around trust and support for motivated individuals.

  • Liked Awais Sheikh

    Awais Sheikh - Did We Forget Someone on this Journey? - Understanding how to Incorporate "the Business" in an Agile Transformation

    Awais Sheikh
    Awais Sheikh
    Business Proces Engineer
    schedule 1 year ago
    Sold Out!
    45 Mins

    You've sent the managers to Scrum Master training. The development team is getting pretty good at writing automated tests and have most of the release process automated. Your CIO is recognizing that Quality Assurance, Security, and Independent Testing is going to need to change to take advantage. But something isn't right. Specifically, you're still not producing products that delight customers. Or, you are producing products that delight customers, but they can't see the light of day because of other stakeholders.

    The dirty secret in Agile Transformation is that for all the talk about how the IT organization needs to change to engage with customers and produce working software, what gets less talked about is how comfortable the customers, or the proverbial "Business", has gotten with the status quo before Agile.

    In this talk, we explore who are the stakeholders that comprise "the Business", what barriers they often face in adapting to Agile, as well as some practices that can help you ensure that they have seat on the Agile Transformation train.