Posts Tagged ‘Management’

First version the book Agile Leadership


Av Patrik Malmquist This free book is about software development without a word on how to develop software; it’s about everything else around the development of software except programming. More particularly, it’s about software development as a knowledge-based discipline and what might make complex software development more productive. Complex problems has multiple solutions, there is no one BEST way to run a software project. It’s like solving rubrics cube it’s got multiple solutions some better and some not so effective, and some strategies doesn’t solve the problem. This book has a specific audience – people how organize software development.

It’s not finished! If we write software in an iterative and incremental way books would probably gain to be written this way also. So here is my non finished first public version of my book “Agile Leadership – A book about the human factor of software development”. So please enjoy and spread it to people that might like it and give me feedback. It free for non-commercial use and licenses under Creative Common – CC BY-NC-SA 3.0.

Yours faithfully

Patrik Malmquist   

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Enterprise Mobility demands competent managers

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Work is not a place, it’s something you do!

I’m in Barcelona on World Mobile Congress 2013 and discussing how to mobiles enterprises. When looking on technology today everything seems possible but gap between management and today’s mobile knowledge workers grows faster the more technology evolve.


I work with helping companies develop mobile solutions for their customer or creating new solutions in order to make companies more productive. For me work is an activity not a place. I have an office and an own room but when I’m at the office my main activity is to collaborate with colleagues.  When I work with companies that are new to the thoughts of work is an activity and not a place I often hear argument like “how do you know that employees are working when they are at home or working from a location other than the office when you can’t see them?” And that is an important question…


How do you know that employees are doing what they should and are maximally productive in the workplace? Just because you see them does not mean they know what they are doing and how productive they are!


Unfortunately only one answer and it is the same answer as when you’re at work, you yourself must simply be competent in the subject matter and really understand what employees are doing. There is no other way. So do you want more freedom in your job, greater job satisfaction and work when it suits you, you simply get yourself a competent manager. I use the work unfortunately because I don’t know how to tell managers this bitter truth, I often sounds like a “besserwisser” that tells them that they are incompetent.


Managers’ primarily focus show be the WHAT’s but need to understand HOW’s

In a world where work isn’t a place but an activity it requires a different approach. We to have a goal-oriented management style, where we sets goals together. This means that managers need to manage the WHAT things but not the HOW-issues. But at the same time they need to understand the HOW-issues in order to set competent goals.


Employees will leave managers, not companies

This means that people that will work in a world where work is an activity they will need a very competent manager that understands the HOW-issues in order to become successful and productive. In my work stimulating work tasks that’s feels fulfilling are more important than earning a couple of hundred $ more. I can recommend Alaister Lows blog post on this subject.



In a world where work is truly an activity rather than a place it will requires a culture of trust, goal-oriented leadership and competent managers. So next time you change jobs then check how skilled your boss is, it’s not only you should be competent for you to be successful in your work.

Leadership vs Management

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Leadership is about understanding direction while management is administering the journey as efficiently as possible. A leader shows the way, develops long-term strategies and plans, and inspires others so they have a clear understanding on the project’s future success.

By informing others, the organization will have the ability to adapt in a self-directing way. Leadership is about pulling the organization towards the future. Management is more about short-term planning.

Complex organizations need managers to coordinate the work, so that the right priorities are established and reached. Managers push the organization towards goals on a daily basis. Leadership is about helping people to cope with change, while management is about helping people coping with complexity. Leaders set direction, mangers plan and budget. Leaders align people, managers organize and supervise staff. Leaders motivate managers’ control.

You can quickly see the important differences between leadership and management in this classic story. A group of workers is cutting their way through a jungle. The workers in the front will be cutting the undergrowth and cleaning it out. The potential managers will be behind them, sharpening their machetes, writing policy and procedure manuals, holding development programs and setting up work schedules. The potential leader is the one who climbs the tallest tree, surveys the entire situation and yells “wrong jungle” (Covey, 1989).

Creating a Push From the Past or a Pull From the Future

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Setting goals

Setting clear goals are important but the current fixation of the SMART goal setting strategy might be needed to be reconsidered, at least when you lead competent co-workers. You have probably been drilled in the SMART goal setting strategy, which preaches that goals shall be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely in order for people to be able to strive for that goal. I want to raise a warning finger when you working as a manager in a knowledge-based organization, you need to be very careful what you which for, you will probably get it.


When you lead competent coworkers they probably know more than the managers, therefor it might be hard to create both short term and long term success based on SMART goals by someone that is just based on historical behavior without getting an undesirable side effect. They might not know witch goal to be set or how to reach the goal but they have a far higher ability to adapt their way of work and invent new solutions than what a reactive SMART goal would lead to.


Let’s say that you like to decrease the “hardening” time at the end of a release cycle. Therefor a SMART goal is set to “cutting the verification time by 50% within the next three iterations”.  This target goal will probably be reached, but often at the expense of more defects getting through to the release.


Another approach is to challenge the team to redesign the way development works so that defects are discovered and fixed as soon as possible after they are injected into the code. With this challenge, a team would quit focusing o how many feature are delivered and start thinking about how to make sure that every delivered feature is defect-free. The team would introduce practices like automated test, continuous integration and code reviewing. When done well, this approach has a track record of dramatically decreasing testing time, by far more than half and at the same time raising quality and productivity.  The system verification time was just an effect of how the development was conducted. If you only look on the verification and test time it might be easy to not see the whole cycle and just trying to make the tester more effective.


The point is that goals that are SMART often are reached, but often solved in a reactive way that leads to new side effects. When you lead competent, proficient and expert coworkers they have an ability to reach further than the SMART goal, when they are given a challenge that is open-ended.


A Challenge is different from fixed performance targets:

  1. Challenges are not necessarily SMART; they are open-ended, customer-centric, and designed to elicit passion and pride.
  2. Challenges communicate confidence that the team is intelligent, innovative, capable of thinking for themselves, and trusted to do their best to further the purpose of the organization.
  3. Challenges flow from long-term vision of what is necessary to be successful over time and contain enough information that the team can act independently and with confidence that their work will contribute to achieving the vision.
  4. Thus challenges are a pull from the future rather than a forecast of the future.


The Evolution of Leadership Styles

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In the earliest period of industrialism, Taylor and Fayol created new ways of administering work more efficiently by centralizing power. Earlier, I talked about the planning, organizing, staffing, directing and controlling model. The foundation of this model was that uneducated labor was hired in factories and they where managed by people who controlled the whole process. This was based on the assumption that the manager knew more than the laborer.Evolution of Management

The style by which these managers led others echoed the dictatorial style of  “you do it my way or you don’t do it at all”. As the labor force became more competent, the managers’ roles shifted. Managers learned to delegate parts of the working process in the new “Empowerment style”, “Do this but do it your way…”. When power was decentralized, the creative and innovative energy of employees was released. Management trusted employees more and mistakes were regarded as part of the learning experience.But in a more complex world where the future was more uncertain and managers didn’t know “what should be the right thing” or “How the right thing was done” a new way of management came about.  With Toyota as one of the biggest examples of Kaisen and Lean, everything will improve and will be done just in time.  Consequently, management had to change into “follow me and let’s figure this out together”. It became an exploratory journey. We can’t fully understand the problem until the first solution to the problem is delivered. And we won’t know if it is the right solution. The right solution (what) is discovered along the way and solved in ways never done before (how).  Therefore, what is needed to succeed in this trip into the unknown? This approach enabled Toyota to implement a million new ideas a year.  This is why Toyota made more than twice the money as any other carmaker. Toyota has truly demonstrated what a culture of creativity and innovation can do.

A new kind of “manager”

In traditional non-knowledge-based companies, the title of “Manager” often implies that a person is either responsible for a lot of people or earns a high salary, or both. Nowadays, there are a lot of managers that have neither formal power over people nor earn higher salaries.  instead they are responsible for a specific situation.

They are assigned to be advocates for a specific intention, area or goal. Within this goal, their responsibility is to understand what makes this intention as successful as possible. A project manager is someone who is responsible for making an intellectual journey into the unknown, taking a specific context from one starting position to a much brighter and more valuable future.

Management these days is about taking responsibility for a situation. In Jeffrey Liker’s book “The Toyota WayToyota’s leaders are described as leaders who are clear about the purpose and direction; at the same time they remain close to the business  and have a deep understanding of the work. A manager needs to have a deep understanding of the Value to the customer. The value consists of “the right thing” for the customer and that the work is done “the right way” for the customer.

The Toyota Way

The Agile Reaction

Agile methodologies have been around for a while and have been adapted with varying degrees of success.Agile methodologies constituted a reaction against the more document-driven and plan-driven methodologies like RUP.  But Agile work was also a reaction against the traditional way of management (bureaucratic management and task management).

Software development is true knowledge-based work, which means that the persons in the team doing the work know most about the whole system, not the managers as in a factory. This puts the managers in a new role where other things are demanded.

The Agile Manager – the Knowledge-based Work Leader

If management is more about taking responsibility for a specific situation, value is created primarily by the team’s knowledge and creativity. A friend told me a story about curling. Each curling team consists of 4 players and one is the team leader. Everyone in the team plays stones and helps out with the sweeping. The manager leads the work with the strategy, discussing with each member but at the same time is an active player himself.

Sometimes the players need to get on the track and help the other players out, sweeping in front of other players’ stone to give it the right speed and direction. Agile management is similar to this. the Agile manager is the player that helps out with the knowledge-based work but his most important responsibility is to help others perform as much as possible and to focus on strategy and execution.

When I look at myself and my work, the times that I feel becoming engaged in the “production and operations”, I soon lose sight of the macro perspective of the development.