Many teams start their agile transition from the "developer-side". This is quite normal, developers (coders and testers) feel the pain more than others because they need to actually get the product/system finished. But by focusing on developers, aren't we missing something? Aren't we forgetting that many of the consequences we so detest come from un-informed decisions by people higher in the chain?
In my experience many agile transitions fail by not involving managers in the process. Sure, it is possible to change how your team works with minimal involvement from your manager, but at some point the team is constrained more by management decisions than actual technical practices or even understanding of the product.
I remember a story of a team that was on their path to agile adoption, but could not progress further because management had decided that certain tools should be used. The usual explanations were given: "IT can only support one tool", "we need to harmonize our tool landscape", etc. Whatever the reason for the decision what we can say is that in this case management had a real - and negative - impact on the team's capability to deliver working software.
Sure we can go rogue and use our own tool chain "hidden" from IT and our manager (and many teams have done that), but that is not a long term strategy. Sooner or later we will bump again against a set of decisions that will hinder us from progressing.
I believe we need a new model for Agile adoption. One that includes the managers, leaders, VP- C-level people in our organizations.
It is this belief that has led me to participate in a project to organize a set of conferences focused on the role of leaders and managers. Last year we organized the first of that set of conferences in Helsinki and named it LESS2010. This year we are continuing that project with LESS2011 in Stockholm.
There are many reasons for you or your manager to attend the LESS2011 conference in Stockholm. From the individual speakers (check-out our keynote line up) to the people you will meet. But If I had to name one reason it is this: Agile and Lean adoptions require our managers to understand the new mindset, and without that we are bound to fail. So, get yourself and your manager to LESS2011 and talk to other managers! Share your experiences and questions and come learn from people that have been facing long lasting agile transitions (the kind that requires management involvement)!