Promoting a transparent flow of information throughout the enterprise creates an open culture. For a Delivery Manager, working with the team to ensure the work is transparent allows you to keep the right balance on managing delivery. On one hand, you don’t want to micromanage the team as this could mean you are not engaging your people enough, drawing out their talents, this kills creativity. On the other hand, you also don’t want to be the last person to know about bad news, this could be detrimental. So how do you find the right balance as a Delivery Manager.
One way is to ensure you have set up transparency enablers which radiate information on delivery progress. These enablers will allow the experts to get on with the work as agreed according to the agreed way of working, radiating the results as they go. The Delivery Manager can then utilise the time created to drive more strategic work, less tactical micromanaging.
Radiators applied correctly allow surfacing issues to be visible, an example is in the concept of a release burndown charts where it becomes obvious that you will not hit the desired or forecast dates or where items on the Kanban board are not flowing and breach defined “work in progress” limits. Delivery Managers can get conversations going, asking the right questions to ensure the team are aware of the surfacing problems. In my experience, a team may be deeply focused on one problem not necessarily see upcoming dependent or related problems further down. These problems left unaddressed or unacknowledged could cause other complex problems. Good teams are rarely unable to fix problems but they can’t fix what they haven’t seen. This is where one partnership between teams and management should meet. You will not get this visibility if the team creates a black box effect around delivery, so the Team should be encouraged to be transparent and radiators will help to create visibility. Other examples of transparency enablers- Vision/goal statements, Roadmaps, Release plans, Estimated product backlogs and sized items, Kanban/Scrum boards, Story maps, Sprint velocity, Test coverage and Pass rate.
Keeping transparency at enterprise level does get tricky for really large organisations. Transparency is workable at enterprises level when teams are working on the same cadence with lightweight governance and closely knit to the same outcomes, like running an Agile Release Train (ART) which SAFE introduced. Teams here will share programmes, systems, processes and even people and therefore it is easier to create visual artefacts that can be shared and understood across the enterprise. For companies that don’t run this way, Delivery Managers should work together find key people across the organisation to plan together and attend demos. Record and send demo’s to any key stakeholder who can’t attend. I found that effective enterprise planning and demos can open teams up to questions from distant stakeholders who may feed into the success of delivery.