GOTO Chicago 2017

Monday May 1
13:30 –
Zurich EFG

Managing Manager‐less Processes


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A new generation of Agile processes are emerging, frequently omitting the role of a dedicated manager. Erik Meijer has termed his flavor as One Hacker Way; my version was originally titled Programmer Anarchy.

We explore the reasons for the emergence of these managerless processes, suggesting they are particularly appropriate for solving “fuzzy problems” (Complex problems per the Cynefin framework of Dave Snowden), and that these fuzzy problems have become increasing prevalent and profitable.

As we decompose the traditional duties of the manager, we begin to see the irrelevance of many of these roles. While some roles are still important in this environment, we suggest alternative implementations for these roles. This includes an actual case study of these processes in action.

The nature of fuzzy problems renders traditional management controls ineffective. We suggest specific alternative strategies that have been effective in various engagements. In particular, we will describe the roles and responsibilities for:

  • Concierge
  • Ambassador
  • Leader
  • Mentor

We will also address other challenges such as performance appraisals and recruiting additional staff when managers don’t exist.

How do you direct the team without managers? Rather than “directing” the teams, the focus shifts to “influencing” and “assessing the effectiveness” of teams on a continuing basis. This dovetails nicely practices like continuous deployment.

Finally, we wrap up by emphasizing situations where managers do provide value, and should still exist. This will lead to hybrid organizations, some parts of which will have managers, while others will not.