Agile is Bigger than us

Does this sound familiar?

My team is really Agile!

Great energizing statement, right?  Your team has adopted Agile, experimented and gets the ideas behind it.  They deliver value on a constant basis, with high quality and manage to stay close to the needs of their stakeholders.

However, there’s one hidden issue in this statement.  Why do you say YOUR team is getting agile?  Does that mean the rest of the company doesn’t?  Are they not involved?

Using the great lyrics of a band called White Lies to say: This is bigger than us!

If you’re using a bottom up approach, you can’t stop at the team level.  Not including the rest of the company is suicide.  Whether you like it or not, your team is dependant on other teams.  They are probably dependant on the product management team, or the sales team, or even the service department.

If these guys are not realizing that they need to synchronize to the cadence of your team, quality will (eventually) begin to suffer.  It will become harder to feed your flow with high quality requirements that bring value to your customers. As you know, half-baked input leads to crappy output.

Same goes for the teams that are behind you in the value stream. If they don’t synchronize, what’s the point of delivering each 2 weeks?  Your features will only be waiting at the next stop and not reach the requesting customer in time, which will lead to some features decreasing in value.

I wrote down these thoughts after (again) hearing somebody say:

I don’t care about management, I wanna do real work.

Sure that’s funny, but I find it sad at the same time.  Because as soon as you’re working with more than a small group of people, the lack of good management can lead to all your hard work becoming obsolete.  Whether nobody asked for it or nobody needs it any more.  You don’t want to see your 6 month, hard-working project lying on a shelf somewhere, do you?

About Nick Oostvogels

Hi, I'm an independent management consultant. My biggest strengths are located in the fields of teamwork, motivation, leadership and continuous improvement. In the IT industry you find a lot of these values in the agile movement, in which I often act as a project leader, product owner or coach. My interests go a lot further, into other industries where we find these values in lean production. Besides that, I try to broaden my horizon as much as possible, always looking for better ways of doing business.


  1. Pingback: Agile « Sumu's Web Link Collection

  2. Hello Nick,

    Nice post. I really do agree with you. Role of managers is compatible (and needed) within the Agile approach.

    I hear to much “it’s because of the manager” in the Agile community 🙂



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