Agile Management: Why Do Managers Resist Agile?
When Agile Development fails, the most sited reasons for failure are to do with the adoption of Agile and can be narrowed down more precisely to the failure of adoption at the managerial level. This often comes under the work cultural change umbrella and typically has symptoms the root cause of which can be broadly defined as a lack of communication. This typically includes things like failure of reporting on work progress, failure of contracting and most critically a failure of requirements management. Partial if not full responsibility always lands on managements’ door. Perhaps it should be expected that Managers would resist the change to Agile since they are to be held accountable.
From the managers point of view, they are being asked to change entirely how they do things, changing from a vertical top down hierarchical management structure to a horizontal self organizing, self managing structure where managers have very little to do with making decisions. This description alone would put most managers on edge, the fear of being redundant culminating in a loss of power and control can be a difficult to adapt to.
Historically we fear what we do not understand and it is the same for Agile.
When we fear something we resist it, and in the case of Agile, adoption is an extreme example for any manager that is unfamiliar with Agile practice. The initial barrier to Agile adoption is the fear of change itself, the idea of having to throw away everything previously held true, forced out of their comfort zone and re-learn with respect to how to manage.
How does Resistance to Change Manifest itself?
Where previously managers would, could or should control information flow with Agile everything should be clear and transparent. Managers often resent giving up the privilege of knowing more first and instead of disseminating the information they tend to stick to the old practice of controlling information flow when they should not, adversely effecting workflow. From our own experience Agile Tools such as our codeBeamer ALM software are indispensable for enterprise Agile adoption, however problems do occur when managers try to use it in a way that was not intended, – to micromanage employees.
Ensuring Successful Agile Adoption
The following suggestions will prevent problems in adoption.
- Identify a technology champion at the management level to promote the benefits of the new order of things. Goal is to take the pain out of the change through familiarization prior to the implementation.
- Consider bringing in an outside Change Management consultant experienced with Agile Adoption.
- SAFe® Certified Training in Agile for Large Scale Enterprise use.
- Adopting ALM Software suitable for use with the Scaled Agile Framework for enterprise use, such as codeBeamer ALM, – training (online or onsite) basic and more advanced options available.
codeBeamer is an affordable and complete Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) software solution that covers all phases of the development process including requirements, test, and risk management as well as demand management, development management, and DevOps. In addition, it offers a comprehensive wiki and advanced document management functionality.