Agile Project and Program Management

The role of management is critical for transformation and growth of the organization and its people. Leadership must recognize the required training for their Management Teams to become "changed agents" and then help, support, facilitate change, timely and proper adoption of lean-agile practices for the teams. In this blog, we will explore the common patterns, misunderstandings, and problems that need to be understood, clarified and resolved respectively. We will see the benefits of training the management layers (Junior/Team-Level, Mid-Level and Senior Managers), who play the mission-critical role of guiding the teams towards organizational goals. Getting the management to play their critical role of steering the delivery  and transformation in the right direction as per the progress is critical to becoming a Lean-Enterprise.

Importance of Management Training-1

To be precise, Transformation is already in progress for every organization; it is the management team with leadership guidance steer the transformation efforts and progress in the right direction.

Project and Program Managers as Changed Agents

The management team once well-trained - become "Changed Agents" in the Lean-Agile concepts (e.g., Agile Practices, Lean and Systems thinking approaches, DevOps Movement, Servant-Leadership) they can support the teams and their colleagues (consultants, vendors) for proper planning, execution approach towards goals.

Common Patterns in the Management function

The following diagram shows one of the common patterns that an organization defines management with multiple layers in their Delivery Organization, working with Transformation agents and Support teams (like HR, Finance, Admin, Operations, Vendors and External Process, Audit consultants).

Organization Structure for Lean-Agile Transformation

The Delivery organization usually takes care of the Business, Development and Operations.

Delivery Organization in Transformation


Delivery Organization

In this above-mentioned organization structure, the management has multiple layers of managers for Team-Level, Program/Portfolio Level, and Senior Levels. These levels and their roles and responsibilities might vary from organization to organization, but it is quite common to have multiple levels (Junior/Mid/Senior Levels) in the management team. 

Support Organization in Transformation-1

Support Organization

The support organization can help the delivery organization through various approaches like CoE (Center of Excellence), Shared Services, System Administration Team, Operations, HR, Admin, IT, Security, Compliance, Legal, Finance, Audit, and many other specialization skills that are required regularly and on-demand. These support organizations might have their layers to make the decisions at a various level based on the problem-level. Transformation agents also influence these support organizations for changing the ways-of-working by techniques like visualization and lean-agile approach of transparency, inspect and adapt for a gradual change towards the virtual organization or complete transformation to a lean-agile structure.

Transformation Agents Organization

Transformation Agents

Commonly we see the Transformation agents either embedded or reporting to the Delivery organization. In this example, the transformation agents work under a separate organization and show their support and facilitation efforts through regular and on-demand requirements by a core team and expandable with external consultants as members. These transformation agents typically help and support in the form of training, coaching, transformation on latest and required topics (technical, non-technical, leadership).

Potential Misunderstandings and Problems

Though Lean-Agile transformation requires the promotion of specific roles and specific structure, the organization cannot change its structure if it is already operating with a defined structure for many years. In this case, the transformation without training and coaching will create misunderstandings and problems, and we will later see how to overcome them.


1. Lean-Agile suggests transitioning from hierarchical to a flat organization, which can be confused or misunderstood as restructuring and removing managers from their current role.

2. Lean-Agile suggests for self-organization approach as opposed with the PMO, Budgeting, Allocation, Project-based structure and other short-term and long-term logistics for the team formation and management of the financials like payrolls, employee care.

3. Lean-Agile suggests for an unobstructed flow of value through the value stream, and management team might see this as organization efficiencies and metrics-based management instead of a big picture or holistic approach.

4. Transformation agents are facilitators for entire organization transformation. Misunderstandings of the Transformation Agents scope and nature of work can place the transformation agents reporting to a matrix and delivery organization promoting local optimization.


The common problems that may arise due to the misunderstandings are

1. Transformation is for the teams and at the team level, and the managers must supervise the transformation

2. The fear of organization change (e.g., reducing the no. of managers) can because poor cooperation and collaboration and hurt the overall progress in delivery and transformation.

3. Confusion within the management layers can create silos with blame-game in the short-term and more wastes and delays in the long-term.

4. Transformation Agents are not well connected with the support and delivery organizations due to lack of awareness by training to the management teams. This type of weak connection can create a delayed approach in facilitating the training, coaching and making the teams independent and self-organized.

Clearing the Misunderstandings and Resolving the Problems

These misunderstandings and problems will go away by merely applying training and minimal coaching to the management team, helping with team-build exercises and approach the problem with required concepts (like Agile Practices - Scrum, XP, Kanban, DevOps, Lean Thinking and Thinking Tools, Systems Thinking and Servant-Leadership) will encourage them the managers to become high-performance managers.

The need for Managers and Layers

Often, we can easily discourage the need for managers and encourage for flat and self-organizing culture. Still many organizations have a defined work structure that measures individual goals than team goals. Especially in software organizations, the teams are not considered as a long-term association or long-running teams. These organizations have a project-based approach, and these projects typically range from three to six months, only very few projects or business/product lines exist for long-term. Still, the people wanted to move from one project to another, or not yet achieved a fully functional team-work state to work with the same set of individuals. We must encourage a gradual transition from working in a defined structure than lean-agile structure instantly and allow the individuals to see benefits themselves by bringing the strategy and structure gradually over some time.

Scrum XP Kanban DevOps for Business Agility

When the management is trained well on the lean-agile concepts, they can facilitate the change gradually and make a long-lasting impact on the mindset change. Even when the individuals move from one project to another project, they still have the same mindset and improve the overall flow of value and their learnings. This type of positive change is only possible when all the managers in the management teams have been trained and operate with shared understanding.

Importance of Management Training-1

What is a Lean-Agile Environment?

A Lean-Agile Environment is a technical setup, office workspace, faster feedback generation environment by automation and avoiding common delays in the workflow. This type of environment provides constant feedback for the employees. Such environments have visualization, optimized office processes, team rooms for better team collaboration, caves for individual or small group discussions, health and food care. In a nutshell, the employees need to focus on value-adding work and need not to worry about spending their time and energy on unnecessary tasks and problem-resolution that are of low value. 

Importance of Management in Modern Organizations


Benefits of Training the Management on Lean-Agile concepts

1. A well-trained Management team on Lean-Agile Mindset works with clarity on the concepts, enables a timely adoption and implementation of good practices.

2. The ability of the Management to choose the right set of practices and combine or customize practices according to their current state and context.

3. Build capabilities for making centralized and de-centralized decisions for faster flow of value and feedback.

4. Embrace change mindset at an organization scale encourages teams to perform with psychological safety by seeing both leadership and management is together in the change.

5. Embedding fail-fast and learning approaches into the organizational culture.


As an Organization Leader, you and your leadership team must focus on becoming active for training all your management team and create a shared understanding, remove any fear, confusion, resolve any problems that they might have, and encouraging them to be aware, alert and apply the concepts for timely and proper adoption of the lean-agile approaches and improve their ways-of-working. This type of well-established training support for managers create a long-term sustainable transformation and improves the overall organizational health and safety. The primary goal of the training and coaching is to make the management team work with high-performance teamwork culture, enable transparency, inspect & adapt, alignment with together approach and better time management. 


To know more about agile practices, please find the Agile Learning Blog Series

Learn about Self Mastery through Shu-Ha-Ri martial arts philosophy.

Learn more about Organization Transformation from Thought Leaders

Next Steps

Are you an Organization Leader, We can help you bring this type of short-term and long-term result oriented transformation (either with available SAFe® frameworks and its roles or customized frameworks) planning by helping you to focus on the right priorities. We can provide you the following Transformation Programme for your entire organization addressing the Leadership, Management, Teamwork and Customer Experience and Satisfaction topics. We provide SAFe® and General Lean-Agile, Focused Leadership trainings for Business Agility, Enterprise Agility, Team and Technical Agility. Here is the General Lean-Agile Workshop details.

Transformation Programme



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An event dedicated to the idea of personal mastery, for nurturing your beautiful self, for change agents and leaders to become their true selves.

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