July 28, 2006

...Learn TDD with Codemanship

Agile Leadership & Other Nonsense

Brian Marick blogs about his concerns over the increasing emphasis at various Agile conferences on Agile Leadership. Quite rightly, Brian's not comfortable with the idea and argues that truly Agile teams are self-organising - and therefore they don't need leaders. What they do need is path clearers: people with the clout and the political muscle to clear the obstacles that get in the team's way.

It's the start of a slippery slope when people start believing the hype about leadership. So let's get this straight, shall we: professionals don't need leaders. A professional should know what they're doing. If they don't then what they need is education, not leadership.

Agile projects take their overall direction from the customer, who decides what gets scheduled in each iteration and and provides the ulimate feedback on what the team delivers. The developers provide technical direction, being best-placed to make those kinds of decisions. Between them, the customer and the developers collaborate as equals to achieve the goals of the project.

Occasionally, however, they might experience resistance to things like getting whiteboards installed, or getting permission to use a certain tool, or physically getting the customer in the same room as them for planning and other key collaborative activities. This is when you need some political muscle on the project. This is when you might need a "manager" who can jump up and down and shout the odds and knock heads together and generally do all of the other cliches that managers are inclined to do when "stuff needs to happen".

People who put the jam in donuts might need leadership. Software developers just need a clear runway.
Posted 14 years, 5 months ago on July 28, 2006