Role of traditional managers in an Agile Organisation

Agile Organisations adopt Scrum framework for developing innovative products and services. According to the Scrum guide, Scrum framework has just 3 roles.

  • Product Owner
  • Scrum Master
  • Development Team

With most of the organisations going for an Agile transformation, are we saying that traditional management roles like project, program and functional managers are obsolete or no longer in demand?

I would say ‘NO’, managers still play an important part in an Agile organisation and below are the reasons, why?

  • Functional managers create teams
    • Managers define boundaries within which a team is permitted to self organize. For example, team can only work on an accounting software and not HR portal.
    • Managers provide a clear elevated goal for the feature teams to achieve.
    • Managers also compose teams and have a say in the initial team formation.
    • Managers can also change composition of a Scrum team (if required).
    • Managers empower Scrum teams by delegating some of his/her responsibilities to them.
  • Nurture resources
    • Managers take care of training needs of the team members whether it is technical, behavioral or domain specific.
    • They provide functional area leadership. As, some of the managers can be an expert in a particular domain/area.
    • They help maintaining team integrity by keeping same resources together for long time (long lived feature teams).
  • Promote Agile culture
    • Managers must embrace Agile values and principles. They should understand and truly believe them. They should also encourage others to do the same.
    • Managers remove Organization level impediments for the smooth functioning of the Scrum teams.
    • Managers have an obligation to help in spreading Agile adoption in the other areas of the organization like Finance, Sales, Operations, Marketing and HR.
    • Managers also align with vendors for an Agile transformation. They do so in order to save time & effort in creating and forming internal Scrum teams. Instead, they can have a fixed price contract with the vendor partner and get the Agile transformation done.
  • Manage value creation flow, manage economics
    • Program managers in Scrum organizations still manage economics for their areas. This frequently occurs through their involvement in portfolio management and corporate governance.
    • They keep track of progress of the projects through Sprint reports and metrics.
    • To effectively manage the flow the value creation, managers must take a system level (holistic) perspective rather than the localized one for their own area.

Following picture summarizes the blog in a simpler way:

Hope above blog is helpful to you. Looking forward to your feedback.