Monday, December 19, 2011

Agile Micromanagement, the good and the bad

Jim Highsmith wrote an interesting post about micromanagement. He mentioned Steve Jobs and Bill Gates are good examples of successful product manager micromanagement. I totally agree with that.

He also talks about the Agile process micromanagement. Experiencing both worlds, waterfall and agile as a developer and a manager. I have a strong opinion about it. Agile is all about micromanaging!

Consider these:

  • You are coding and someone is talking about your code as you type it (Pair programming).
  • Every day you stand up and tell the whole group what you did yesterday and what you will be doing today (Daily Scrum meeting).
  • You retrospect about what you did well and what you can improve on (Retrospective)
  • You show everybody exactly which task you are working on and how it is progressing (Visible card wall)
  • You respect work in progress limits (Kanban WIP limit)
  • You make a code commit and let everyone know about it. (Continuous Integration)

The more I think about it, the clear it is to me: Agile is all about micromanagement. The good or bad depend on how people adopt its principles and practices. I have experienced many benefits that come from such micromanagement. In fact, when I look back at all projects I participated on, the projects I consider more successful (people enjoying working, delivered great products and improving the work process) are the ones with lots of micromanagement.

7 comments:

Dov said...

Totally agree! Agile methologies are almost all about micro-management, BUT it is about micro-management done by the team itself, and not by and external "authority".

hypnos said...

I think your interpretation of agile manifesto closes on a devil with the bible. You see pair coding as micromanagement session, as opposed to a utilization of holistic and functional brain hemispheres.
You see the daily scrum as a reporting session, as opposed to developers delegating their impediments to the SM. You see retrospectives as reporting as opposed to brainstorming. For 5 minutes, assume Scrum is not about micromanagement and see things again.

stephane said...

I totally agree with hypnos on this. The practices described in this post (standup, pairing, retro, etc) are all aimed at information sharing.
Only with sufficient and high quality information can we expect everybody to give the best of themselves.

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