Collaborative Leadership is Required for Agile Environments

A couple of months ago I wrote that Agile Is More Than a Set of Methods — It’s a Leadership Mindset. Agile methods won’t thrive unless the IT leadership mindset and culture is itself agile, and for most agile experts, that implies collaborative leadership.

Why is collaborative leadership required for agile environments?

Good question. Consider this: The Agile Project Leadership Network (APLN) is founded on the principles of the Declaration of Interdependence (DOI). (As a point of transparency, you may want to know that I co-authored the DOI and cofounded the APLN with, I’m pleased to say, fourteen regarded agile experts.)

Notice the term “interdependence.” All six principles of the DOI point to some element of interdependence with — not independence from — project and business forces:

  • We increase return on investment by making continuous flow of value our focus.
  • We deliver reliable results by engaging customers in frequent interactions and shared ownership.
  • We expect uncertainty and manage for it through iterations, anticipation, and adaptation.
  • We unleash creativity and innovation by recognizing that individuals are the ultimate source of value, and creating an environment where they can make a difference.
  • We boost performance through group accountability for results and shared responsibility for team effectiveness.
  • We improve effectiveness and reliability through situationally specific strategies, processes and practices.

Interdependence implies simultaneous multi-way, cause-effect relationships. The interdependent business forces include (at least):

  • your customer’s idea of value,
  • variables in your operating environment,
  • the vicissitudes of your creative talent, and
  • your methods and goals.

To recognize interdependence means to realize and admit being only one player among a group of factors

You must dance with time and nature — you can never isolate and freeze time and nature while you assemble static pieces of your project. Once you recognize and declare your interdependence at the project level, then you realize

Posted in Agile, Leadership on 12/28/2010 12:50 am
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