Case Study 13.1. The Agile Change Leader
One of the roles in a software team is that of the methodologist, who guides the team members how to follow the principles of their software development method and is responsible for the method’s implementation (Dubinsky and Hazzan, 2006). This role definition stems from a team perspective, i.e., an insider to the team who constantly lives the methodology (see Chapter 2, Teamwork). This case study broadens the discussion of this role, focusing on what happens in one specific organization in which several software projects and multiple teams participate in a transition process to agile software development (see Chapter 12, Change). In this case, the responsibilities and authorities associated with the role of methodologist are extended.
In general, an agile change leader, whom we call the methodology change leader (MCL), can be found in almost any transition to agile development. The MCL is an insider who knows well why change is required in his or her specific environment and finds it worthwhile to adopt the agile spirit either as a whole or only with regard to several of its practices. He or she is aware of the problems in the organization with respect to software development, can in most cases analyze them, and has reached the conclusion that the agile approach can solve them with some degree of success. The MCL can belong to the organization’s management or to one of the software groups. In any case, the MCL is busy convincing the management to make the initial decision towards adopting the agile approach. This process can sometimes take months and even years.
In practice, the MCL is a kind of mediator between the different parties involved in the transition process. The MCL understands all sides involved and can put himself or herself in the shoes of either side. The MCL role evolves gradually, since the MCL, as well as the other people involved in the process, learn while implementing the agile approach daily. An MCL should have enough patience and strength to lead a learning process that has its ups and downs, in which, on the one hand, everyone knows that the MCL is there for them, and on the other hand there are always some cynics who are just waiting to watch how he or she falls. In addition, the MCL establishes a network of team methodologists, who together serve as the backbone of the transition process and later on support the sustainability phase (see Chapter 2, Teamwork for scalability issues).
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