Agile is Transparent – Not Micromanaged

Recently, Mike Cohn suggested that it is the dark secret of Agile that it is all about micromanagement. Mike mentioned that all practices of Agile support micromanagement. He suggested,

  • The daily scrum is about micro-managing the team’s daily work plans and making sure that everyone is doing what they say they’ll do.
  • Continuous integration is put in place so that the minute some developer screws up and breaks a build, it becomes known.
  • Pair programming is about making sure that programmers don’t lose focus, don’t goldplate, don’t work on only the fun stuff, and that they clean things up.

I personally believe Agile is not Micromanged. Agile is Transparent and allows everyone to be accountable and take responsibility.
There is a difference between the transparency that Agile seeks versus micromanagement. Agile teams need to be craftsmen when it comes to their code if they are to harvest the benefits of lowering the cost of defect remediation by detecting defects early and fixing them. Also, the team collaboration that occurs in the daily standup is different than the daily status.

Agile is different than predictive processes that managers use because the leaders that work for Agile teams get behind the notion that enabling teams to do the best things to generate the business value that their software produces. Agile managers are servant leaders.

Managers who think that they know how to do the software, in addition to knowing what needs to be done are usually only fooling themselves and their superiors.  There’s a certain amount of courage that is necessary to do Agile properly. Transparency is different than micromanagement, and is basic to the Agile way of doing things.