Wednesday, September 24, 2008

8 Questions for Your CEO

Have you been wondering how to get your CEO's attention long enough to have a conversation about agile? Here are 8 questions, inspired by Rob Thomsett, long time Agile Evangelist and keynote speaker at this year's Agile Business Conference in London:
  1. Are project management and development free of bureaucracy?
  2. Are projects delivered fast enough?
  3. Are the project business cases well developed and managed?
  4. Is the level of transparency around projects sufficient?
  5. Are Steering Committees effective?
  6. Are the progress reports you receive accurate?
  7. Have you ever been, or do you expect to be ambushed about a project you are sponsoring?
Chances are good your top management will answer 'no' to most if not all of these questions, except for the last one. These are all symptoms of disease. This disease has no name, but it is closed, dishonest and distrustful. It poisons the atmosphere and prevents effective communication.

Agile is about openness, honesty, trust, courage, and an ethical attitude towards money. Agile can cure the disease, but is not without side effects: a dramatic cultural change in your company.

By asking the questions, you should have gotten his attention. The eighth question is, 'do you want the cure?'

BTW - Ambushed means that a peer (i.e. rival in the company) learned bad news about your project before you did and surprised you with it in meeting in front of all your peers. Very embarrassing. Operational staff often learns about an ambush through a very heated discussion with said top manager after the fact.

Update - Have you tried these questions on your CEO or executive management? How did it go?


Kevin E. Schlabach said...

Your comments about getting ambushed brought back prior memories from an old mentor about not creating a terrorist in your team or organization.

Peter said...

Not create terrorists? What a concept! I wrote about getting the CEO's attention. How do we get the attention of certain politicians?

All kidding aside, not antagonizing people is an important part of project management. I now start all projects - especially project rescues - with a heartbeat retrospective. The object is to get everybody involved and motivated (and as a happy side effect, on my side ;-)