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Agile Architect as Servant Leader


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Agile changes how we develop products. We no longer have the big design up front, or even know enough about what the product might do at the beginning. How can you continue to create great products that people will want, and that will be coherent? You can change your perspective from serving the product to serving the people.

When you include servant leadership for the people on the teams, you continue your work as a traditional architect: shepherd the business value of the architecture, explore possibilities so the teams can implement, and create new ideas for how the product(s) will fit together. In addition, you coach and serve the people on the teams. You no longer have to be the only one with the vision. You can share the vision.

This challenges everyone: you and your sense of worth; the teams and how they work with you; and the organization for who does what, how, and how to compensate everyone.

In this talk, Johanna Rothman will discuss how agile creates opportunities for architects, and what servant leadership can look like for architects.

Published in: Business

Agile Architect as Servant Leader

  1. 1. Agile Architect as Servant Leader Johanna Rothman Agile and Lean Program Management: Scaling Collaboration Across the Organization @johannarothman 781-641-4046
  2. 2. © 2015 Johanna Rothman@johannarothman Poll for Context • How many of you feel as if you are the “one and only” architect for your organization? • How many of you feel as if you are the lead architect for several projects/products in the organization? • How many of you work on programs (collections of projects with one business objective)? 2
  3. 3. © 2015 Johanna Rothman@johannarothman Problems with Agile Architecture • We don’t want BDUF • We don’t want a central “authority” • Destroys autonomy • Teams will do what they want anyway • We do want to have an idea of where we’re headed • Wo do want to know the architecture will have integrity 3
  4. 4. © 2015 Johanna Rothman@johannarothman Architecture Helps Products • We have a coherent vision • We might have a clearer idea about when to make decisions • We have a way to discuss the whole and the parts 4
  5. 5. © 2015 Johanna Rothman@johannarothman Architecture Helps Us See and Solve Problems 5
  6. 6. © 2015 Johanna Rothman@johannarothman The bigger the product, the bigger the problems. The more we need architecture. How do architects fit? 6
  7. 7. © 2015 Johanna Rothman@johannarothman Agile Invites Collaboration and Change • The bigger the product, the more people work on architecture • Unless you are doing advanced development with one or two people, more teams will address architecture • Architect-as-Lone-Wizard doesn’t fit with agile culture 7
  8. 8. © 2015 Johanna Rothman@johannarothman Architects as Servant Leaders They are self-aware. They listen. They share the power. They help other people grow. They coach people, not control them. They unleash the energy and intelligence of others. They work to develop their foresight, so they can act, not react. — From Keith: The Case for Servant Leadership 8
  9. 9. © 2015 Johanna Rothman@johannarothman Self Aware • Reflection to understand own strengths and weaknesses • Build on strengths • Manage weaknesses 9
  10. 10. © 2015 Johanna Rothman@johannarothman Listen • Gather feedback and data • Exploring • Wayfinding • Balancing the different needs • Align to business needs • Optimize for the product 10
  11. 11. © 2015 Johanna Rothman@johannarothman Share the Power • Collaborate, rather than dictate • Tempting to tell people what the answer is, rather than explore possibilities with them • What do you do if you can’t get other people to collaborate with you or someone thinks there is no time to collaborate? 11
  12. 12. © 2015 Johanna Rothman@johannarothman Help Other People Grow • Who has the capabilities to be a great architect? • How can you help that person grow? • How are you working yourself out of your current job to a better one? 12
  13. 13. © 2015 Johanna Rothman@johannarothman Coach, Not Control • We don’t control other people’s actions.We offer them possibilities. • Coaching is offering options with support 13
  14. 14. © 2015 Johanna Rothman@johannarothman Unleash Others’ Potential • When you help other people succeed, you look like a star • Consider • Autonomy • Mastery • Purpose 14
  15. 15. © 2015 Johanna Rothman@johannarothman Develop Foresight • With significant experience you can predict (some of) the future • Potential risks for the product • Potential performance/ reliability concerns • Potential technical debt concerns • … 15
  16. 16. © 2015 Johanna Rothman@johannarothman Satir Change Model 16
  17. 17. © 2015 Johanna Rothman@johannarothman Many Changes • For you: • Your sense of worth • What you do • How you work • For the organization • Compensation • How people work together 17
  18. 18. © 2015 Johanna Rothman@johannarothman Experiment • Agile changes everything (by inviting change) • Your organization might not consider servant leadership • With experiments, you: • Measure • Try something for a short timebox • Measure again and see what happens 18
  19. 19. © 2015 Johanna Rothman@johannarothman Possibilities for Experiments • Architectural kanban • Architectural spikes with a feature team • Architecture CoP • Direct coaching • Work with people across the organization • What else can you imagine experimenting with? 19
  20. 20. © 2015 Johanna Rothman@johannarothman How can you, as an agile architect, shepherd the business value of the architecture? 20
  21. 21. © 2015 Johanna Rothman@johannarothman We Need Great Architects & Architecture • How will you make it happen? • How can you serve the product and the people on the project so you increase the organization’s capability? • What’s your superpower? 21
  22. 22. © 2015 Johanna Rothman@johannarothman Let’s Stay in Touch • Please link with me on LinkedIn: • • Subscribe to the Pragmatic Manager newsletter: • 22