Thursday, September 7, 2017

SPaMCast Interview: Why don’t we have more effective Agile leaders?

Jeff, for anyone that’s been in the business for any length of time, we understand that good, solid leadership is important to drive, lead, help facilitate, and make a transformation happen. Why are we still, in many cases, stuck in the “Thou Shalt” mode as a leadership style, in terms of transformation? ~ Tom Cagley, SPaMCast

[Editor's Note: Over the coming weeks, this CMMI Appraiser will be sharing excerpts from a recent conversation with Tom Cagley on the Software Process and Measurement Cast (SPaMCast) about leadership, and whether leadership is more or less important in today’s Agile world. Listen to the full interview at SPaMCast 456.]


So true. It’s really interesting that things haven’t changed much in this regard. I was talking to client the other day, who said, “You have a really good job, and you get to do this year after year, because companies don’t change.”

It certainly seems as though we are dealing with some of the same issues that we were dealing with 20 years ago.

Why is that? I think part of it is that leaders don’t feel that change matters to them. Or they don’t believe that change applies to them. As a result, they sometimes insulate themselves from getting the help they need to make change happen.

The other component that’s missing from companies – particularly in the Agile space – is a leadership model for executives to refer to and lean on. They could really use something that lays out for them: “Here’s what great leaders focus on.”

I know I never had that. I was the CIO of two different companies, and I never had something that I could open up that read: “Here are the things that great CIOs and CTOs do, and here’s what you focus on. Here are the areas that are important. Here are the areas that you have to improve on.”

For a long time, we've needed a sort of a SAFe or ITIL or CMMI for leadership. But that just has not existed in the market.

So it's a combination of things. Leaders believe that change doesn’t apply to them, and refuse to get the help they need. And the industry hasn't provided a framework to guide leadership and show them, “Here’s what you have to improve on.”

In the absence of this kind of framework for leaders in Agile organizations, there is no one evaluating performance. It’s the wild west out there. And it's time for change.

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I hope my readers have enjoyed this segment of my interview with Tom Cagley on SPaMCast #456. We'll be talking more about leadership, and whether leadership is more or less important in today’s Agile world, in the next segment. Please check back soon.

For those interested in a deeper dive into learning about Agile Leadership, you are invited to join me and other Agile leaders at The 2017 Agile Leadership Summit, hosted by on September 22nd in Washington, DC. I look forward to meeting many of you in person for the first time!

Click here to register for The 2017 Agile Leadership Summit.

Like this blog? Forward to your nearest engineering or software exec!

Jeff Dalton is a Certified SCAMPI Lead Appraiser, Certified CMMI Instructor, author and consultant with years of real-world experience with the CMMI in all types of organizations. Jeff has taught thousands of students in CMMI training classes and has received an aggregate satisfaction score of 4.97 out of 5 from his students.

Visit for more information about engineering strategy, performance innovation, software process improvement and running a successful CMMI program.

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