Agile Management—An Oxymoron?
Thursday, 30 October
"Self-directed team" is one of the mantras of Agile Methodologies. Self-direction means that the team's manager
is relegated to a facilitator role with little or no influence over day-to-day activities. For example,
Kent Beck has written that the manager of an XP project can do four things: ask for estimates on cost and
results, move people around among projects, ask for status reports, and cancel the project. Agile literature
in general says that managers shouldn't be directly involved in analysis, design, coding, testing or integration.
They may (but only occasionally!) facilitate the process between the customer and the developers; and it would
be nice if they provided food and toys to keep the team happy. It appears, then, that the agile manger is
expected to hover on the fringes of a project asking a few questions and throwing in goodies—but with ultimate
power (cancellation) in her hip pocket. This scenario makes one wonder. Do managers really matter to the
success of an agile project? Are they superfluous? What happens when managers step over the prescribed
line—does it mean that the end of Agile Methodology as we know it and as handed down by the Agile Manifesto?
The panel will explore this ticklish terrain by answering the following questions: Why Agile Methods and managers
don't mix. Or do they? What can/should managers do in an agile environment? Under what conditions are managers
an absolute requirement in an agile environment? (e.g. Government applications?) Do good management techniques
apply to both Agile and non-Agile environments? Is management a dead-end profession in an Agile world?