Management 3.0. The Role of an Agile Manager

May 30, 2016

Guest post by Ralph van Roosmalen

Imagine this: You are working as a manager at a company, you work there already for years and things are not going bad but you know there is room for improvement. You heard about Scrum, Agile, the Agile Manifesto… and you decide to learn more about it. You visit a few conferences, attend a Scrum training and yes.. this is what your company needs.

You decide to implement Scrum. After many sleepless nights, headaches, success, failures, happy moments, sad moments… you wake up one morning and realize you succeeded! You did it! You implemented Scrum successful, you know it is not 100% perfect but the retrospectives are going well so you are convinced it will work out.

Your job as change agent is done, or at least you need to spend less time on it. But what now… what will you do as manager? You don’t need to prioritize work anymore, that is the role of the Product Owner. You don’t need to work on the process anymore, that is the role of the new Scrum Master. You are not allowed to tell the team how to organize things, the teams are self-organizing. Is your life as manager over, should you quite your job?

No worries, there is still plenty to do. In Management 3.0 we believe everyone is responsible for management. Indeed, management is a verb. It is not a role, but yet in some organizations there are people who spend a lot of time on management.

They are called managers, there is nothing wrong with that, but it doesn’t mean other people are released from management. It will be your job to get other people also into management, and to create an environment where not just teams but the whole organization becomes self-organizing.

What are the management activities in Management 3.0? What can you do?
There are 6 areas where you need to focus:
  • Energize People
  • Empower Teams
  • Align Constraints
  • Develop Competence
  • Grow Structure
  • Improve Everything
Let’s take a short look at the 6 areas:

Energize People

The most important step is to make sure people are energized. That people are engaged, motivated and happy at work. As manager you can’t tell people to be happy, you can’t tell them to be motivated. Unfortunately it is not that simple. It is your responsibility as manager to create an environment where people will be motivated and can be happy. If I ask someone how he or she is motivated, she will probably say something like: “I am motivated by…” It is your job as manager, to make sure the part after “by” is there.

Empower Teams

Teams are self-organizing but would you like to delegate everything to the teams? Would you like them to decide on which office they are located, which tools they use, which color of sticky notes they use or who should get a bonus? I hope you will  answer yes on most of the previous questions 🙂

But it is clear that you want to delegate as many things to the team. Keep the decision of how things should be done as close to the execution as possible. However, sometimes you want to keep certain decisions close to you as manager or the team wants you to be involved in some decisions. As manager you will need to think about how to delegate things to teams, and also think about how teams can delegate things to you!

Align Constraints

You did it! The people are energized and the teams are empowered. But as Henrik Kniberg shows in this picture …..


….High Autonomy and Low Alignment will result in something… but not sure if it will be the results you are looking for. As manager you need to make sure your teams have a vision, you need to involve them in setting defining that vision. Management 3.0 is not about Command and Control, so telling your team what the vision is, is maybe not the way to go.

Additionally, you also need to think about metrics. What metrics are you going to use? Should they be connected to money? Should they be easy to understand? If you have metrics in place, you can also show the organization if you are heading in the direction of the vision.

Develop Competence

Eric Ries describes in his book, The Lean Startup, that the organization that is able to learn the fastest than anyone else will win. The world is changing faster and faster. Look back five years ago and could you have imagined products like Uber, Airbnb, etc.?
To make sure your team members can keep up dealing with new technologies, they need to keep developing competence. However, telling people they have to learn a new tool is not the “optimal” way to go. People should start learning themselves, form an intrinsic motivation. It is your role as manager to create an environment where people are challenged and invited to learn, to address their intrinsic motivation. Additionally, you need to have an overview of which knowledge you need. How do you show team members in which areas they need to develop?

Grow Structure

Every organization has challenges to find good team members. One of the solutions is to search worldwide, make use of all resources available at any place. To set up distributed teams. This will give you other challenges… how do  you provide feedback to team member that you never see in real life because they work in different timezones? How do you set up communication structures?

Improve Everything

Let’s imagine you implemented the previous five areas, and you think you are done. Sorry, you are wrong. You are never done. As said already, things are changing so fast nowadays. You will need to create a culture of continuous improvement. It is already partly there in your organization because of Scrum. However, it goes beyond Scrum.

How do you make sure all teams and departments learn about improving things? In Management 3.0 we believe there is no silver bullet to solve a problem, so which change management techniques are you going to use to implement improvements? Will you celebrate failure or will you celebrate success? As manager you need to think about this, what would you like to celebrate? Maybe not failure and success, but maybe you want to celebrate learning?

A personal take away

I did a Management 3.0 workshop a few weeks ago and one of the attendees said at one moment… “this is difficult” when we talked about motivation and team members. He is correct, management is difficult and no one said it’s easy.

However, when you focus on the right areas as manager, you will create a great organization where people love to come. Where happiness will lead to more success!

So which area will you focus next: Energize People, Empower Teams, Align Constraints, Develop Competence, Grow Structure, Improve Everything?

If you are just starting, it will be a great ride, start doing it today and have fun!

You can practice these techniques and much more also by attending Management 3.0 – Agile Leadership Practices Course, a 2-day workshop delivered by Ralph Roosmalen.

Main topics: Management and Leadership, Complexity science and Systems Thinking, Energize  people, Empowering Teams, Align Constraints, Development Competence, Grow Organizational Structures, Improve Everything. 


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