Many managers have a tendency to toss overboard the processes they’ve worked hard to implement at the first sign of trouble or in the face of looming crisis. This holds true for Agile process implementations, especially when they are perceived as “light-weight”. Some people have a natural tendency to apply additional rigor (e.g., reverting to defined processes, command & control, etc.) in the face of looming crisis. Yet they implemented Agile knowing those defined processes were not effective even during non-crisis times. Why would it be any different now?
I admit to having command-and-control tendencies from time to time as well. For me, it’s a personal struggle and a show my organization’s maturity and character when we stick with the processes that have proven most successful in times of great turmoil and even crisis.
Here are some things I fall back on when I feel myself slipping towards C&C:
- Agile = Discipline/Rigor. Agile is lighter-weight in some regards, but really it requires a tremendous amount of discipline to pull off (TDD, continuous build, aggressive refactoring, self-organization, etc.).
- I Trust my Teams. I have the best people I can find on my teams and they are professionals. If they cannot do something, I probably couldn’t do any better by taking control myself.
- Keep Things Visible. Whenever we revert to C&C the high visibility we have as managers into the problem status will immediately cloud and vanish as team members feel the need to cover up perceived short-comings. This is an intelligence nightmare.
- Creativity Must Flow. C&C stiffles natural creative problem solving ability. Encouraging imagination is one of the keys to heading off failure in Fast Company article “Gospels of Failure“.