Leadership in Agile Organizations: Why Quality Matters Most

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Agile experts, Bob Galen and Shaun Bradshaw, discuss some of the triggers your organization must hit to be effective in agile. Many companies think, “going agile” automatically indicates that things will speed up for them. In reality, they should be focusing on things like the definition of done (DoD) and avoiding rework.


Leadership in Agile Organizations

“Quite often, leadership in agile organizations assume that agile is a speed play, and believe that going agile will allow them to get five times more of their software development efforts completed. But, that’s not really the case.” – Agile expert, Bob Galen

What are the triggers you have to hit to be successful in agile? Shaun Bradshaw believes the definition of done (DoD) is a prime factor that sets everything else up. It’s about getting the full spectrum of what you’re trying to deliver done within the sprint. It’s not necessarily about the speed although agile can result in speed, when done correctly, because there’s focus. Ultimately, QUALITY should be your prime directive not speed.

In agile we are called to take action around how we present information to leadership. Often times, Waterfall projects mimic the “watermelon” example, green on the outside and red on the inside. One of the things we can do to avoid this kind of perception, to leadership, is by using charts and agile type metrics to provide visibility into the reality of the projects current status (i.e. here is the quality, here’s what has been done, and here is the time we are getting it done).


How to Provide Quality to Agile Leadership

  • Do it right the first time
  • Utilize metrics and charts to provide more visibility and transparency to leadership. Reality drives, it’s not perception that leads to reality it’s the reality of where are we? What’s our progress? If things get off track, what adjustments to that progress needs to be made?
  • Avoid rework by conducting regular code reviews, design reviews, test reviews, and planning. While at times this may seem like a long and drawn out process you will save time by reducing the amount of rework and gain a better understanding of the entire team’s needs as well as some key gap areas you need to address.

“A lot of times, in Waterfall, I think of Lean and I think of rework. There is a lot of rework that happens in Waterfall (i.e. fixing bugs, designs that may be messed up, requirements are wrong). Agile is ultimately trying to avoid that rework and produce quality results.” – Agile expert, Bob Galen


How Should Leadership Address Quality with Teams?

What should leadership in agile organizations care about most? QUALITY!

But, how shall we address the issue of leaders asking questions such as, when will it be ready/done?

It’s questions like these that infer to the teams that speed trumps everything else. It infers to the team that speed trumps quality and good engineering. Bob Galen believes there is an importance to coaching the leaders in addition to the teams. Leaders need coaching to learn how to address quality in their teams, with questions focused on such as:

  • Are we adhering to the definition of done?
  • Are you doing it right the first time?
  • Have you engaged the customer?
  • Have you shown them half of the story and gotten feedback from them?

Leadership should be focused on quality not the speed or the “quantity of completed work”.

  • Change your leader’s language
  • Change the conversations
  • And, if you truly want to “Go Fast” stop talking about it and start doing stuff with the mindset of quality

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Are you doing agile or BEING agile?

Read our blog to find out. Moving from doing agile to BEING agile, written by Andrea Galicia.