The surprising science behind agile leadership – why we do what we do

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Update – you can download the slide deck for this talk here.

I am giving a new talk on agile leadership this November in Calgary titled:

The surprising science behind agile leadership – why we do what we do

Nov 2 CAMUG Tuesday 6:30 – 7:30pm
Nov 3 APLN Wednesday noon to 1:00pm

I know the title sounds boring but I can assure you the topic isn’t. In this talk we are going to get into what agile leadership is, why it works (scientifically), and why it’s so hard sometimes to implement and practice at our companies today.

If you are in Calgary and free either day I would to see you.

Here’s the abstract for those of you who can make it.


Not everyone is a fan of the self directed self organizing team. It flies in the face of traditional project management, and often conflicts with the traditional organization model. The benefits of self directed teams however are too big to ignore and now we have scientific proof as to why. In this new talk on agile leadership, Jonathan explains how and why agile leadership works, the science behind why so many choose to work this way, and the impact it’s going to have on you and your organization.


Jonathan Rasmusson is the author of The Agile Samurai. As an experienced entrepreneur and former agile coach for ThoughtWorks, Jonathan has consulted internationally, helping others find better ways to work and play together. When not coaching his sons’ hockey teams or cycling to work in the throes of a Canadian winter, Jonathan can be found sharing his experiences with agile delivery methods at his blog, The Agile Warrior.

Slidedeck here.


Lightning bolts and reality

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Just having gotten back from Agile 2009, there is a tension in the air that I find interesting in the agile community.


Most people / companies seem to get the mechanics of agile delivery. No one is debating the merits of writing unit tests, gathering requirements as user stories, and delivering functionality incrementally.

People get that.

What is more interesting is how companies, specifically senior management, are reconciling this growing wave of common sense and pragmatism that agile brings to project delivery, as it bubbles up within their organizations.

The tension I am referring to is how companies with traditional command and control style structures reconcile the brutal honesty and visibility agile brings to projects and portfolios.

No longer can management remain blissfully unaware of how their projects are doing. When the true state of a project is revealed, and it conflicts with the edicts and lightning bolts thrown down from up high, some tough conversations will need to be had.

As agile gains in popularity, and the dysfunction of how we have traditionally managed and run projects becomes more clear, it will be harder for command and control style management do just say ‘do it!’, when there is measured, tracked compelling evidence indicating others wise.

So if you’ve had great success with agile at the project level, and you are wondering how to capitalize on this and transition it to the next level, take comfort in knowing that you are not alone. Many are undergoing the same journey.

For some the transition will be smooth.
For others it will never occur.

The good news is that the conversations are occurring. And those companies that make the transition will reap the rewards and benefits that come from having an energized, self-organizing, continuously improving eco-system upon which to build compelling projects and services. And others will continue (some very successfully) with what they have done before.

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