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6 Habits for Business Leaders to Succeed with Agile

Although executives now understand the value of agile, they are often led to believe that agile is just something for software developers to figure out. They do not realize they too play a crucial part in agile success. McKinsey aims to rectify this. In an article, Santiago Comella-Dorda, Krish Krishnakanthan, Jeff Maurone, and Gayatri Shenai describe six habits that business leaders should embody when getting agile:

  1. Put skin the game.
  2. Shape the product together.
  3. Cheer for your own team.
  4. Think like a user.
  5. Learn to live with “good enough.”
  6. Broaden the mandate.

The Agile Rhythm

In some cases, the best product owners for a project will be business unit leaders—so they should step up to the plate and become just that. It will require deft schedule management and rearrangement, but so be it. Strong product owners ensure the best possible product gets built.

Somewhat related, business leaders can get more involved in product discussions in general with IT. Rather than sit down once for interviews so that IT can conduct formal requirements collection, IT and business leaders can engage in ongoing talks. They can shape the product together. Investing in collaboration tools that provide visual aids may be helpful here.

When the authors say that business leaders should “cheer” for their own teams, they are really just talking about the value of transparency and education. Leaders should get the word out about products (and encourage teams to do the same), both to generate excitement and to collect feedback on how to make products better.

The next two habits—thinking like a user and living with “good enough”—are common tenets of agile, and they are tenets that business leaders should be able to adopt too. And lastly, about broadening the mandate, the authors say this:

As scrum teams ramp up their performance and experience, they will inevitably bump up against slower teams and processes elsewhere in the organization. These slower teams, such as high-volume sales organizations, use more traditional, rigid work processes. To maximize the impact of agile methods, senior leadership must consider ways to transfer lessons from agile teams to different areas of the company. Working with the CIO and other technology professionals, senior business executives can identify the processes and products that are most critical for delivering business value to customers and consider which agile principles would help to speed things up…

You can view the original article here: http://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/digital-mckinsey/our-insights/a-business-leaders-guide-to-agile

About John Friscia

John Friscia is the Editor of Computer Aid's Accelerating IT Success. He began working for Computer Aid, Inc. in 2013 and continues to provide graphic design support for AITS. He graduated summa cum laude from Shippensburg University with a B.A. in English.

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