While 67% of the initial champions for enterprise agile adoption are at the top, the most cited obstacle to further adoption is lack of management support. [1] And yet, most change efforts tend to focus on the teams, rather than management. When support is offered, it is typically not more than listing a few do’s and don’ts in an agile training class.

This, combined with the tendency for managers to be promoted because they are excellent at technical work, rather than people skills, make paying attention to managers all the more important.

In a company wide Lean Transformation, Dan Bos, operations manager for Herman Miller who has been applying lean thinking since 2001 said “Lean tools can be taught to anybody. We know now that the soft skills are the critical part of this whole process.”[2] Lean Manufacturing, while different from agile software development, is very similar from the perspective of the magnitude of behavior and thinking changes required.

In this session, we will make the case that for agile change to be successful, we need to move management from the role of the expert who solves problems for teams to the role of coach, who develops her team’s best thinking. We will use Mike Rother’s Toyota Kata model to explain how Toyota develops managers from experts to coaches. I will then provide some specific Yahoo! examples of how we have taught coaching skills and the results.

And while knowing what to change is helpful, it doesn’t provide the specific guidance that you need in order to make coaching a habit. So we will guide you through a workshop to come up with a specific change plan that makes sense in your environment to sustain the change. You will identify key behaviors you need to change in order to be a coach, instead of an expert. You with then apply Joseph Grenny’s proven model for analyzing the six sources of influence, to sustain your new behavior. You can also use this model to mentor others in your organization to do the same.


* People managers in software development companies

* Leaders of the managers above

* Coaches in enterprise agile adoption.

[1] State of Agile Development Survey. Rep. VersionOne, 8 Jan. 2012. Web. .
[2]”The Hardest Part of a Lean Transformation.” Message to the author. 10 Jan. 2013. E-mail.

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