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Getting the CEO's attention

At the #sglon London Scrum Gathering Joe Justice and I lead an open space on how to get the CEO's attention. Our goal was to come up with at least three things to try. I could not stay for the afternoon wrap up, so here is a summary of what we discussed:

Ideas for getting top management buy-in (un sorted)
  • C-Level Training "offsite" (offsite is a management word which is well understood and has positive connotations). The goals is to 
    • Take away the fear and 
    • Give them tools for the new world
  • Apply the golden circle: From Why? (Business Goals) to How? to What? (See Video from TEDxPugetSound 'The Power of Why")
  • As an external consultant, demand participation from management two levels up.
  • Apply the AIDA process (Awareness, Interest, Desire, Action) or AIDAA (AIDA followed by Ability). You have to get people willing to listen (Aware) before they will even discuss your issues. TED Videos are good for building Awareness.
  • Give the CEO a book, e.g. Radical Management by Steve Denning or Beyond Budgeting or a presentation (e.g. John Rudd's Business Case for Agile talk at the Seattle Gathering or his article in AgileJournal of the same name)
  • How to get the CEO to open the book? S/he'll do it if s/he is curious! For events, start early, e.g. 7am to 10am, so that s/he has the feeling that s/he can get work done during the rest of the day.
Given that we have the CEO's attention, we next addressed the question, what should we ask the CEO to do? A few answers:
  • Change the incentives of the organization  (e.g. KPI's, bonuses, HR reviews...) to be Agile compatible
  • Be a good example for the new value system
  • Make handling impediments a priority for the organization
  • Encourage communities to take responsibility and solve problems
  • Create a vision for the company (e.g. Company 2.0)
  • Take regular Gemba walks (get close to what is going on and visit real work getting done)
  • Measure and respond to Henrik Kniberg's Happiness Metric
And as a last thought, how can you get in a position to deliver your message. How do you meet in the "elevator" -- so you can deliver your "elevator pitch." Get close to him physically - Breakfast, Lunch, Hotels - any place where you can meet him/her by "accident" -- but no stalking...!

I would like to thank everyone who participated. I got some really great ideas (and I know what the Washington DC version of the Scrum breakfast will be called!) and look forward to trying them out!

Here are the pictures of the flip-charts we produced:


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