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Doing Agile Right

Transformed Support and Control Functions

Transformed Support and Control Functions

Support and control functions, such as legal, compliance, finance and human resources, often undermine Agile team performance. Typically, they slow decision making and create bottlenecks, forcing Agile teams to extend their deadlines. Leaders increase their agility by enrolling these functions in the change process and having them adopt Agile principles. Four guidelines can reduce impediments to Agile team performance.

Align incentives. Make sure that support and control staff understand that the speed and productivity of Agile teams is vital to business outcomes and that they should expedite Agile team progress while performing their support and control work. Finance can play an important role by moving to an Agile planning and budgeting model that allows rapid reallocation of resources and enables the funding of persistent Agile teams.

Develop coaches instead of referees. Successful companies shift the mindset and behavior of those in support and control functions. Instead of acting as referees who judge whether an action breaks the rules (often late in the game), they become coaches who support, educate and guide Agile teams toward achieving their goals.

Build relationships. While most Agile teams may not require a full-time team member from human resources, for example, assigning an HR staffer to a group of teams can be beneficial. That person will better understand the work and objectives of the teams, build relationships with team members, and proactively help identify needs and issues before they become impediments.

Set guardrails, not roadblocks. Articulating control function boundaries for Agile teams helps increase their autonomy while clarifying when guidance is required. It also encourages teams to engage control functions such as legal and compliance when they anticipate that their work might bump into these guardrails.