agile Leadership - why the army is the most agile organisation I've ever been in

It is time to talk about ‘agile Leadership’.

Reflecting on 7 years of experience in the Israeli army I’ll be sharing stories and insights about how the army REALLY operates.

The army is not as ‘Command & Control’ as people commonly expects – it is much more empowering and agile than you’d think.

At the army, I’ve learnt the true meaning of cross functional teams, the importance of reflection, feedback, creative problem solving, trust, teamwork, conflict resolution, resilience & responding to change.

This talk will be intertwined with army (and civilian) war stories & tips for leaders in an agile world. This talk aims to inspire a new wave of Agile Leaders, through sharing examples of effective leadership, it draws on real, lived experiences and concepts (directly from the ‘horse mouth’) as well as useful takeaways that attendees can take back and apply to their work.


Outline/Structure of the Talk

The presentation will start with some bio about me followed by a true story about how a military secret operation is planned and executed followed by a summary of the Agile leadership and the analogy to the Cross Functional teams at work.

The Presentation will end with some practical summary of Tips & Tricks I’ve gathered from my 21 years of leadership experience to inspire and enhance the audience leadership impact.

I’d like to leave some time at the end for Q&A – I found that army stories tend to have many questions following the talk.

Learning Outcome

The main takeaways will be:

  • How to build trust in your team, fast.
  • How to truly empower your team.
  • Practical tips & tricks to being an agile Leader

Target Audience

Leaders, Managers, anyone who works in a cross functional team

Prerequisites for Attendees




schedule Submitted 2 years ago

  • Rashina Hoda

    Rashina Hoda - Becoming Agile vs Doing Agile (Research Talk)

    45 Mins

    After 20 years since the manifesto, the latest state of agile reports more than 80% of organizations as "still maturing" in their agile practice. As agile methods expand beyond small teams and software itself, we are still struggling to answer these questions:

    • Why is it that some teams are more 'agile' than others even though they all claim to be practicing agile methods?
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    • How do these dimensions interact with each other?
    • Overall, what does it take to become agile and how does that differ from doing agile?

    This talk is based on my original theory of becoming agile developed from 10+ years of industrial research of agile practice in New Zealand and India, which received the distinguished paper award at the IEEE/ACM international conference on software engineering (ICSE), in 2017.

    In this session, I will explain the key dimensions that need to transition during agile transformations, using industrial examples, and highlight what you can do to progress beyond simply doing agile, to harness the most from your agile transformations.

    This keynote will add a unique research perspective to the conference program, sharing agile research in an industry-friendly format and delivery style.

  • Shane Hastie

    Shane Hastie - Deliberately Designing Culture for Collaboration

    90 Mins

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    Culture is "the way we do things here" rather than anything written or prescribed, so understanding how leadership attitudes and behaviors influence and create organisation culture is vitally important to successfully establishing an environment where people are able to bring their whole selves to work, are engaged and positively contribute to the organisation's success.

    This session is presented as series of facilitated conversations drawing out the key aspects of organisation culture and showing how it is influenced by a wide variety of factors including structure, geography, promotion policies and practices, the conversations leaders have, what gets rewarded, ignored or punished, relationships and friendships and a wide variety of other factors.

  • Nilesh Kulkarni

    Nilesh Kulkarni - Enterprise agility with #noframeworks

    45 Mins

    Many companies in today's VUCA world are planning to bring enterprise agility. While many frameworks are available in market, what is missing is the mindset, culture and organizational design that is needed to bring enterprise agility. It also demands coordination across entire value chain and various business process that are part of, or impact the software development life cycle. This session will focus on larger context of enterprise agility and what is needed to bring life to agile enterprises.

  • 20 Mins
    Experience Report

    Evolving an organization to use more agile techniques often means re-evaluating the role of dedicated QA teams common in waterfall development processes. In software organizations that develop a large platform with a group of agile development teams, there is still a need to ensure quality at a product and platform level. As one solution to this, this talk introduces the idea of Platform QA, a dedicated team of QA specialists with responsibility to the entire product, and the platform that delivers it. Platform QA is a feature team that works on a backlog of quality risks and has ultimate ownership of shared artifacts such as end to end (BDD) tests and QA environments. This talk discusses differences between waterfall QA, platform QA and embedded QA, examples shared from my own experience, and conditions where this solution may make sense as a transitional or target organizational structure.

  • Adam Burke

    Adam Burke - Building Memory Palaces From Ontological Slime

    45 Mins

    Software is complex and made from slime.

    It is complex both in the everyday sense, and in the more technical sense used by complexity science. It is slime in that software is continually forced to engage with real world systems very unlike the laws of highschool physics, systems where rules are very local and contingent. William Wimsatt calls this "ontological slime".

    This complexity is why agile software development and design are effective, including the usefulness of human feedback and of reducing localised complexity in code. We also have an agile idea, from Peter Naur, that a large part of programming is building and improving a model of the system in the programmer’s head. What does that imply about the worldview of an effective programmer? Because software is a complex system, a great developer needs survival techniques for navigating and building beautiful machines out of causal thickets and ontological slime.

  • Zaheerabbas Contractor

    Zaheerabbas Contractor / Pradeep Kellangere - Transformation Hiccups - Emphasis on Technology or Alignment to Business Objective or Vice-Versa?

    45 Mins
    Case Study

    Today Industry across various organizations is on a journey towards multiple transformation initiatives with the core aspect of bringing Business Agility to their existing construct. As they embark on the journey of transformation initiatives unfortunately each initiative operates in siloes due to reasons across limited Perspective, Partial Collaboration and Inefficient Execution approach.

    The Organization Culture and hence the Mindset restricts their thoughts towards being able to transform across areas of Overall Strategy, Customer Experience, Products (& Services), People, Organization and Technology. What is the intrinsic motivation behind driving towards this huge initiative and the desire to adopting to change.

    Through this session we intend to share the characteristics of a business transformation and the mindset change required to work towards the various transformation initiatives which potentially cuts across;

    1. Agile Transformation :

    • Ingrain the concept of “think small” – thinking away from monolithic and breaking smaller towards microservices adoption

    2. Business Process Re-engineering

    • Incubate “Build and own concept” with federated business objectives focused towards business process improvement and outcome based approach

    3. Engineering Transformation

    • Achieve Predictability ingrained while building system – Anticipate the system of failure
    • Reliability Incubate – Resilient and Fault tolerant system
    • Quality – Defect reduction across life cycle using Automation

    4. Workforce Transformation

    • Cadre building focused towards Engineering skills
    • Utilizing the concept of “Core” and “innersourced” team to leverage Critical skills across the board.

    5. Technology transformation - Open Source and Cloud Adoption etc

    • Time to market by creating pipeline in matter of minutes
    • Pattern Implementation (Immutable Infrastructure, Blue-green deployment, Canary release)
    • Executable across multiple platforms and Teams. Infrastructure(Cloud) Agnostic

    6. Improving Operational Efficiency.

    • Cost Effective - Effective utilization of development and operational teams
    • Being able to groom stories into buckets allowing to distribute across "Core" and "Innersourced" teams hence allowing flexibility of operating model,
    • Speed – Improving processes and playbook adoption
  • Fennande van der Meulen

    Fennande van der Meulen / Maartje Wolff - Making performance reviews most effective: play the card game for the best conversation

    90 Mins

    Being effective, efficient and happy is a challenge. We all want to bring our best to work, but how do we thrive at work? Science shows that the way teams work together and management have a huge influence on our performance. Talking about happiness at work is for some people a difficult task. It might be awkward, too personal, or just odd. But knowing what makes you happy at work is extremely important if we want to work in flow and get the best out of our team. The card game Talking about Happiness at work, give you just the right tool to do this. This game can help you to enhance happiness levels within your team, skip the usual boring performance reviews and helps to thrive at work.