Getting Real About Business Agility: THE MANAGEMENT LAYER


When: Wednesday March 27, 2019  6:30-8:30 PM Est

Where: Scrum.Org HQ, 131 Middlesex Turnpike Burlington MA 01803




Craig Larman, co-founder of Large Scale Scrum (LeSS), has defined 5 laws of organizational behavior, the first being:

Organizations are implicitly optimized to maintain the status quo for middle managers, specialist and power structures. They are not optimized to deliver customer value!

How true this first law is!  Anyone who has participated in a failed attempt at true organizational transformation has experienced this first law in either one or two ways:

  1. Agile has been mandated from executive leadership down to the teams, with little to no buy-in or follow-up throughout the middle management layer
  2. Grass roots, ad-hoc attempt at transformation from the development teams that is stymied by HR, the PMO and the middle management layer

Nilofer Merchant, Author of the book "The New How", calls this phenomenon the "Air Sandwich", which exists between executive leadership and the development teams resulting in middle management and specialist actively working to keep their span of control. In the end we all can agree that for any transformation to be successful every part of the organization, including the business and HR, needs to transform and be engaged and aligned to a single purpose, otherwise the transformation fails!

In this edition of our Business Agility series, we will focus our attention on the middle management layer of the organization, discussing the changes to mindset and practices that each executive leader has to actively engage in changing within their organization. We will cover:

  • Addressing the Elephant in the room, decision rights, accountability and the establishment of new authority boundaries
  • Creating an Ecosystem that supports the seeds of Agility being planted in our development team
  • Transition from control management to Servant leadership
  • Participation in the removal of organizational obstacles through the Executive Action Team
  • Enabling self-managing and cross functional development teams
  • Avoiding the pitfalls of offshoring development work
  • Championing transparency up and down the organizational chart
  • Fostering a learning culture based on innovation and experimentation

What you will learn:

  • The True objective of Business Agility: creating shared consciousness and a dynamic network of teams
  • Elements of bad organizational design and how to correct them
  • How Executive Action Team meetings are facilitated
  • How to identify management / specialist behavior that contradicts team empowerment
  • Techniques to enable transition to Servant Leadership
  • A refresh of Design Thinking



6:30 - Business Agility Basics
7:00 - Food & Networking
7:25 - Keynote presentation
8:25 - Final announcements
8:30 - Done!



Joseph DeAngelis is an enterprise agile coach and transformation expert with over 20 years experience working in the software, hardware, and financial industries.  Joseph is passionate about helping organizations achieve true Business Agility that is not based on practices first, but instead is based on creating a shared consciousness and a dynamic network of empowered teams so to enable organizations to achieve the real promises of Business Agility: Resiliency and Adaptability!  To achieve this, Joseph helps prepare the leadership to create the right eco-system and organizational design that will support and nourish the seeds of Agility that are planted within the teams and foster a culture of true transparency and collaboration!  As the Agile Boston Operational Leader, Joseph has partnered with some of the most influential business agility minds and is very excited to bring this series of business agility topics to the greater Boston Agile community!