Executive agile Reply


One of the more frequent questions I get is how the practices that make up a good agile leader or team can be applied to an executive and his/her direct management team. I believe it is important to step outside the “agile” circle for a moment and recognize that the practices, principles, methods, techniques and most importantly, the values that shape a successful agile leader, team or project are more important that the “agile” brand themselves.

Using the proven disciplines of agile, executives can improve themselves and their organizations dramatically.

  • The idea of running stand-ups vs. sit downs improves focus, effectiveness and decision making because the technique teaches leaders how to operate more efficiently and with more rigor in working through their respective areas of responsibility.
  • Running the business with visual tools, i.e. value stream maps and Kanban boards brings lean thinking into the equation and simplifies the views of information, removes the waste of large documents, endless slide-ware and reports that no one really ever reads in complete detail. The use of lean/agile tools also lend themselves to visualizing accountability of stakeholders, showcasing results but also identifying failures or risks much earlier in the process.
  • Adopting more common agile practices, i.e. user stories actually bring more definition and purpose to what an organization needs to get done. A user story approach in defining business goals and objectives allows for clarity and simplification of major initiatives but it also helps teach leaders how to hone their communication

The last point is really about the idea of agile in the realm of executive coaching. As an industry, executive coaching uses more traditional techniques to train leaders how to be more effective but these techniques, like most that are traditional, can benefit greatly from becoming more lean and agile in their approach. As an individual and as a company, executive coaching is something we do and the application of common lean and agile practices has proven more effective than the traditional techniques employed to grow leaders.

Some of the practices and methods mentioned in the bullets above are common ways to accelerate growth in an executive team and when you consider that organizations can align these same sets of practices throughout middle management and in several major areas of the business you then begin to see agile at scale within an enterprise.

I’m passionate about 1-to-1 executive agile coaching, or as we call it here; emergnEXEC. As a leader in your company it is worth the time to understand how it all applies.