While mid-level leaders are planning how to build out the vision (part two of the series) and when the product owner and teams are creating product roadmaps (covered in the next post), senior leaders should play a supporting role.
Depending on the size of your organization, the planning (or portfolio management) for your product teams and subsequent product roadmap creation may become quite complex as aligning priorities and dependencies is often challenging. Senior leaders can help.
Here are a few things senior leaders can use to make this process easier and support their mid-level leaders and agile teams while they are planning and coordinating:
Establish clear boundaries. Communicate any organizational constraints mid-level leaders and teams should be aware of prior to planning and roadmap creation. This would primarily be budgetary or technical (from a CIO or similar) but there may be others depending on your situation.
Provide clarity of vision. Questions may emerge from your leaders or teams on aspects of the vision. Be available to assist them and be able to paint a vivid picture for where the organization or product suite is heading.
Assist with prioritization. Many opportunities, features, technical advancements, and areas for innovation and improvement will be competing for the attention of mid-level leaders and product owners as they build product teams and product backlogs are established. Be available to assist in prioritization discussions if requested.
Expect hard decisions. With prioritization comes decisions. Often times these decisions will be hard as it is not easy to say no. The temptation may be to delay making some of these decisions as it’s not popular to tell people their project or request will not be happening when they would like. Constraints will require choices so expect your leaders to make them.
Obviously, there will always be more responsibilities than those represented in this model but by focusing on these specific areas during an Agile transformation, senior leadership will understand where they are most needed by agile teams, when their support is required, and when their effort should be concentrated on relationship building and encouragement.