Agile 12 Step - Step Three - Clearly Define Roles & Responsibilities
Step three may be one of the top items that most Agile organizations really struggle with. One of the keys to achieve Agile success is to identify the key people who will fulfill each outstanding role in the Agile process. While on the surface this may seem easy to do, it has proven to be a large challenge for most. Many teams are not prepared to empower team members to make non-mission critical decisions and even fewer have clearly stated the role of an Agile Manager, Executive, and or Stakeholder. Many people confuse Servant Leadership and Team Empowerment with Confusing Metrics and Organized Chaos.
A wise man once said there is a very small yet very significant difference between a milestone and a millstone. If we focus all of our attention on something so far away and direct our attention away from the most immediate needs of the team, the milestone fades further and further away and becomes a millstone around the neck of the person or team attempting to adopt Agile. In other words, we need to be able to adapt our adoption around true roles and how everyone included in the initial rollout can be included as part of the Agile team and can clearly understand their role. We often fail to explain how roles will be transformed.
This results in a clear misunderstanding of what new expectations one might have now. This also provides a window for people to claim ignorance when it comes to adopting Agile Processes. I have been part of a large number of agile adoptions and on many occasions I have seen people who in their heart of hearts are trying to do what they feel is best for the organization, when in reality, they are polluting the very waters they are swimming in by not feeling the need to adapt what they are doing.
In addition, we should convey just how negative it is to have people taking on multiple roles and wearing many hats. When managers find themselves crossing the line and stepping into a position of trust within the team, they need to take a step back and make certain there is not an elephant in the room. True servant leadership has taught us that in many cases backing away and letting others take control could be the answer we seek.
If it doesn’t feel right, chances are, it is not right. People are quick to discover when they are not in a position of comfort. Long story short, having the key roles identified and mapping people who are a good fit for each is a critical step in Agile success. Remember to focus on the skills and talents of each individual and not only on the title they have been given. At the end of the day, it should not matter what the title reads, what should matter most is are we filling all of the needed responsibilities to deliver early and often. Here is your chance to humanize work!