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Agile Australia 2011 Series - Restructure for Agile, Really?


What resturcturing for agile means to me is taking out needless hierarchy and placing delivery responsibility back at the team level. This topic in my Agile Australia talk is probably the one I am most conservative about. Restructuring a department that involves changing people’s roles is very disruptive. That’s good if you want to disrupt, if you want to signal that some radical change is necessary. However I would advise if you are going to do it, do it in a well managed way.

Restructures that are a veiled excuses to get rid of people perceived not to ‘think like you’ have an impact, not just on the victim, but also on the people left behind; in the end someone has lost their job which creates a sick feeling in the people left around you.

Perhaps more importantly, what does it say about me as a manager if I need a set of agreeable people to my views in order to create a successful software delivery capability? Why would I deny myself the challenge of creating a new changed vision we can all get behind? Why would I write off half the department for not sharing my views? Would I then leave myself susceptible to ‘group think’ if I wasn’t open to alternate opinions?

Restructuring to be a flatter org structure, on the other hand, I like. For example we’ve stopped the practice of distinguishing between seniors, juniors, leads etc. We keep job titles out of roles discussions.

Restructures may seem like a dry topic, somewhat akin to building or correction a foundation, but actually structures within organisations come down to the fabric of people woven around work. Take care not to rip so hard that you leave a frayed edge, that wouldn’t feel to me like People over Process.

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