The Manager is a Landscape Gardener

State of mind

The role of the Manager is to shape the working environment rather than the solution

State of mind

Description

In Scrum, teams are self-managed [Schwaber 2020]. This paradigm shift disrupts managerial habits. The foundation of this self-supporting organisation is particularly relevant with the "knowledge worker" [Drucker 1999]. This kind of employee is identified by his or her knowledge of the product which is superior to that of his or her manager, which profoundly changes the role of the latter. In a company where the agile transformation has not reached the management, the manager remains a kind of Super Hero [Colonna 2019] [Moustier 2020] able to answer to his hierarchy and to offer the commitments it expects on his domain. This situation leads to the creation of fiefdoms which imply the creation of ramparts around his resources to guarantee his promises and it is the creation of organisational silos which are then erected.

The infallible manager implies a rigorous application of the fruits of his imagination, which will lead to a caricature of micromanagement that reduces the involvement of employees and the capacity for innovation that emerges from the field. This situation leads this type of manager to be confronted with a certain distance from the reality on the ground, which prevents him from seeing things clearly. This is in fact true for any person because in a complex system, it is impossible for everyone to know all the actions of the whole system, this is the principle of obscurity [Appelo 2010].

Even with a minimum of agile culture, it is obvious that this type of manager is unsuited to an agile context and more precisely with a complex environment where one learns as one produces [Snowden 2007][Appelo 2010] which requires constant innovation to be able to survive [Nonaka 2007]; however, the manager is culturally necessary in an organisation as he is the repository of the organisation's trust [Appelo 2010] [Moustier 2020].

An encouraged positioning for an agile manager is to position him/herself as a representative of a problem without being the decision maker; instead, the manager can foster innovation through knowledge, creativity, motivation, diversity and personalities such as curiosity, courage, simplicity [Appelo 2010], continuous learning, employee autonomy, exploration and personal development by agile leaders [SAFe 2021-24].

Thus, in agile, rather than dealing with the product, the manager should [SAFe 2021-25] :

  • guide the change
  • eliminate the obstacles of his team in the organisation
  • coach his teams
  • build teams
  • define the missions and vision of the teams
  • a bit like a gardener who imagines the landscape, irrigates, plants and strengthens his plants to let them bear beautiful fruit.

Application to the maturity of the test

The manager must reinforce the presence of quality from the design stage [SAFe 2021-25].

The curiosity cultivated by the manager within his teams and the qualities that result from it allow the teams to expand their vision of their products and gradually provide a good product.

Agilitest's position on this practice

Using Agilitest requires few technical skills and allows its use to be generalised at low cost. This minimalist investment allows to create a good functional quality level.

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© Christophe Moustier - 2021