When Manager Becomes a Coach

I work in a large organization where there is only two agile islands that I'm aware of. Maybe couple dozen of developers out of 85 000 employee are actively experimenting agile framework. Not so long time ago I had a discussion with line manager who challenged the need for anything else but few managers in around 500 person division (brave opinion being one of those managers who should look for new role/position). This made me think about manager's role in an agile organization. It's a view I have given less thought in the past, while focusing on project organization and developer issues.

It's a fact that organization of this size has lots of managerial responsibilities. What if self-organizing teams would take up most of those responsibilities?

This brought me back to the basics making me believe in self-organizing developer team in the first place. That fact that current technology may very well be useless in two years, makes it essential for developer to be able to focus on taking these technologies by the neck every day - full time. This is what makes her capable of making those technical decisions which she is authorized to make by agile manager.

Isn't it the manager's new role to allow the talented developers to focus on learning new technologies and new product development?
Agile managers do this by facilitating, coaching, and trusting the team!

There exists more abstract agile frameworks on how organization could work in agile fashion to better synchronize with incremental development and further foster the flexibility. One of them is Cycles of Control framework(CoC, documented in licentiate thesis by Kristian Rautiainen). I believe that most of us are not ready to let traditional management levels go, but we need to close the gap using something like CoC.

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