Tuesday, October 3, 2017

SPaMCast Interview: Is leadership more or less critical in agile organizations?

Jeff, when an organization is embracing Agile, is leadership more or less critical than in an organization embracing some other fundamental model? ~ 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.]

agile leadership

Tom, Agile leadership is a lot like Agile itself. Agile is iterative, incremental and distributed. In an Agile organization, leadership is iterative, incremental and distributed. 

I have an article slated for publication next month in the Cutter IT Journal on this. I’m calling it the “Pedagogy Principal.” The notion of this article is that Agile leaders need to learn how to teach other Agile leaders, and those Agile Leaders need to teach other Agile leaders. In other words, what’s needed is a cascading leadership effect. The problem with agile organizations today is we are not teaching leaders how to teach other leaders. 

For your listeners, Tom, pedagogy is the science of teaching and teaching others how to teach. Short story: I come from a family of teachers. My brothers, sisters and parents are all teachers, and I was the renegade. I was the only who said, “I do not want to be a teacher.” I do a lot of teaching now. Go figure!

My father, who is 93 years old and is still doing his thing, still refuses to refer to what I do as teaching, because I was the renegade that didn’t get a teaching degree. He always asks me how my “seminars” are going. Let’s say I’m teaching a class at Carnegie Mellon this week. He will say, “How was your seminar Jeff? How did that seminar go?”

So I was brought up in this environment of education. As a result, I really believe that one of the things that we can address and fix with leadership is teaching them how to be teachers. Then they can get better at teaching their leaders, and understand how to cascade leadership down to the lowest levels of the organization by teaching them how to do it. Part of that is demonstration, and part is mentoring and coaching – and a big part is teaching. 

What I’m examining in this article is what kind of framework we can put in place to help leaders be teachers, and teach them how to teach others how to teach. I think that really is the opportunity: Teaching them how to teach other leaders.

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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, please visit agilecxo.org for white papers, infographics, podcasts, lighting lessons and performance models to help software and engineering executives guide their organizations to be more agile, from top to bottom.

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

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