Executives Don't Think We Are "Doing Agile Right"


New post for everyone to consider. Curious of your experiences dealing with executives and how we can improve our collaboration with them.


I’m struggling in this arena at the moment myself, Chris. Teams are receptive to my feedback and are willing to discuss areas where they struggle and want to improve. More oft than not, they’re thankful for the moments that I reflect back their behaviors in the pursuit of continuous improvement. It’s neither awkward nor confrontational; it’s collaborative.

In short, I succeed in these conversations more than I fail.

With leadership, however, the opposite is true. I fail more than I succeed. I feels like a struggle to get them to talk about weaknesses that they wish to shore up. It’s a struggle to get them to see that when they point to the teams as the problem, they have four fingers pointed back at them. It can feel like pulling teeth to get them to talk about how they can improve their interactions and collaboration with the team to create a better product for our customers.

Most importantly and what I find most frustrating is I feel this is my own failing because I can’t seem to find a common vocabulary or garner the right amount of trust that would allow for an open exchange of ideas.


Dude, thank you for sharing that. I wish more of us were willing to share our failures in this area so we could work on the solution together. This post has garnered some interesting comments from the community, and not all of it is great. It’s so easy to blame leadership for not “getting it” or “being ready for transformation”.

Blame blame blame blame blame.

I have to own my issues in my communicating well with leadership early on, and it’s important that I grasp that now. I was just handed an entire group to work with and they have their own leadership to work well with. What I am trying to do is prepare myself to listen to their needs and desires, trying to connect them with the material and effort as best as possible.

Will it work? Who knows, and there’s a lot of outside forces that might work against me regardless of my coaching stance. But if I understand that I have to be part of the solution, and not treat them as my foe…maybe it will help.

Keep sharing Tanner, thanks for chatting with me about it.


I’d love to hear more, @chrismurman. Want to chat some time? Maybe a sanity check with respect to our approaches might inspire new ideas for the both of us.


You bet @Tanner. Any time you want to chat I’m down.


good stuff!

One thing I’ve come to realize recently is that change agents and leadership are not talking about the same things when they use the word Agile.

I’ve observed leadership thinks agile is a set of practices, that if done “right” produce the outcome those leaders have been promised.

Change agents know that agile is a set of values, beliefs, and principles, that if observed lead to the outcomes that are desired.

The practices of (insert framework here) if applied in the presence/continuation of the old belief systems (Waterfall, command and control) will fail. How many stand ups have we attended that are status reports? How many burn downs have been “escalated” to leadership instead of being used by the team as an inspect and adapt tool?

It think that disconnect (What agile is) is the root cause of “We are not not doing agile right.”

Agile is not a noun. It is an adjective.


EXACTLY!!! Thanks for sharing Andy, keep the conversation going. :slight_smile:


Well said, brother. Also, long time. I hope all is well, @andycleff.


Couldn’t have said it any better. While I respect executives in what their objectives and goals are (especially in public companies), they are the ones that truly impact the organizational shift into the agile mindset the most. Ron Jeffries’ post on the dark scrum pretty much sums that up.


Here’s a link to the article @Jonster1220 mentioned: http://ronjeffries.com/articles/016-09ff/defense/

A good read!

I’m struggling still with “who impacts the shift (in mindset) the most.”…


[quote=“andycleff, post:6, topic:872”]
Agile is not a noun. It is an adjective