Agile Management and Escalation Experiences

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This interview is in Spanish. However, you can read a summary in English below.

In this interview, I had the pleasure of talking with Marc Oliveras. Marc is from Barcelona and for more than twenty years he has accumulated valuable experience working in various countries and companies. Marc is passionate about music and the technical side of Agility. His most recent experiences have to do with being the CTO of companies that are walking the path of Agility.

In the interview, Marc told us about his experiences growing companies that start with only a few people and then expand their capacity. Marc began by saying that from his role as CTO, it is simply not feasible for him to be in all the interviews and recruitment processes; therefore, delegating these functions is essential. Marc also commented that approaches such as Lean and Kanban have given him good results in the area of Human Resources, an area that is beginning to use these tools to better conduct searches for personnel.

Marc said that his work experience has led him to grow companies in Latin American countries, where culture, laws, and recruitment times are simply different. He recalled that in countries like Chile, for example, labor laws do not make it easy to dismiss hired personnel; therefore, it is necessary to take extra care when hiring.

Marc pointed out that having a group of people is not the same as having a team. People will certainly need time and guidance to eventually become a team. Marc also noted that in his career, it has worked well for him to use Objectives and Key Results that are vital to be able to scale, because escalation ends up working when teams have autonomy and have clear objectives. 

Something he considers another useful tool is Management 3.0, which helps to manage work and not people. Continuous improvement, but mainly work for objectives, have been key tools in Marc’s experience. Marc pointed out that it is not possible to control everyone’s day to day, especially when it is scaled. Instead, you have to look for tools and ideas that allow autonomy and alignment of teams. 

Marc believes that in volatile and changing environments, creating hierarchies is not necessarily the approach that works best. On the other hand, a more horizontal approach streamlines decision-making and brings creativity, which is precisely what is needed in these type of environments. “Democracy ends when time is up,” as he says, makes a lot of sense. Debate cannot be more important than working. 

Marc also mentioned that having hierarchies can bring the added complication of drawing knowledgeable people away from where their knowledge is required. The problem with hierarchy is not the hierarchy itself if it puts the right people in the right place at the right time. However, having that precise alignment of people, place, and time is difficult in a changing and uncertain environment.

For Marc, the Management 3.0 trend contributes a lot, as it provides a systemic view of companies. From systems thinking, each individual is considered a system, and when they interact with other people, you end up having more complex systems. Therefore, it is vital for management to deal with these systems, and it is vital  that it not only be left in the hands of managers themselves, but rather, people close to the work . 

By delegating work management to those who actually do the work, managers can free up time to focus on setting strategic direction, hiring, road mapping, creating mechanisms, and operating models, etc. A key factor that Marc mentioned is that when hiring someone, this person must be willing to manage her/his work and not wait for a manager to tell her/him exactly what to do. Marc pointed out that his main function when recruiting is to avoid hiring toxic people, as these would prevent this type of management from working.

 Marc closed the interview with some tips for managers:

  1. avoid paralysis by analysis
  2. define clear objectives
  3. define why and at what speed you want to grow
  4. incorporate learning and not have fixed ideas
  5. learn to live with uncertainty and give teams confidence


About the Author

Juan es un capacitador, expositor y pensador alternativo. Desde que Juan se expuso a Scrum a principios del 2007 se comprometió a continuar aprendiendo y aplicando Scrum en los equipos y organizaciones donde trabajo. Su camino lo ha puesto en los roles de ScrumMaster, Scrum Trainer, y Product Owner. Juan cumplió el 2014 con todos los requisitos del Scrum Alliance para ser un Certified Scrum Trainer® (CST) y es ademas un LeSS Friendly Scrum Trainer.

Como CST y LeSS Friendly Scrum Trainer Juan ha entrenado a más de cuatro mil trescientos estudiantes en cursos de CLB, CSM, CSPO. A-CSM y A-CSPO en diez países del continente americano. Juan también a dado cursos privados para compañías como: Citibanamex, Marsh, Slalom, Deloitte, Walmart, CGI, SAIC, Express Scripts, T.Rowe Price, Time Warner Cable, ViaSat, Garmin, Moffitt, Kyva Systems, Blue Book Network, Insurance Auto Auctions and BlueCross BlueShield.

Juan fue miembro voluntario del Board de Directores del Agile Alliance donde sirvió por dos periodos consecutivos de tres años hasta el 2019.

This is an Agile Alliance community blog post. Opinions represented are personal and belong solely to the author. They do not represent opinion or policy of Agile Alliance.

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