noun: autonomy – freedom from external control or influence; independence.

Management in the age of Agile requires more than renaming traditional roles and shuffling personnel around on an organizational chart. It’s about creating the right dynamics for teams to quickly inspect, adapt and make rapid-fire decisions while being transparent. Middle management can forget about telling employees directly what tasks to work on and how to execute them. Individuals in an agile organization require a high level of autonomy. The Scrum Team is a collection of those individuals who live by the Agile methodology, scrum values, and work within the scrum framework. Those individuals of course include the Product Owner, Scrum Master and Development team.

For scrum to be truly successful, the C-suite must be the integral part in driving adoption of agility across the enterprise by embracing the core principles of agile and remaining flexible in the midst of the organization’s massive foundational changes. It is no small undertaking to instill autonomy and executives have to take these steps forward simultaneously with all employees. If not, middle management will feel like they are on the outside looking in and will pose a great risk to the successful adoption. The roots of the change that is needed have most likely been embedded longer than any single one leader or employee in the organization.

“To promote enterprise agility, more companies are choosing to make small teams their basic organizational unit. Problems occur, however, when companies don’t give their small teams enough autonomy to work at the speed required by the digital economy.” McKinsey

Most management principles took root from Taylorism, which was born in the early 1900’s to manage people doing work in simple domains such as manufacturing. Most industries in the 21st century live in an ever increasingly complex domain. Technology for sure is a complex domain without question, maybe even sometimes chaotic. A great example of the stark contrast of Taylorism and Scrum is described beautifully in the book, which I highly recommend, “Fixing Your Scrum” by Ryan Ripley and Todd Miller. They provide this direct comparison in Chapter 2: Why Scrum Goes Bad;


Taylorism Scrum
Management tries to make the work as predictable as possible by precisely managing resource utilization with exact estimates. Scrum teams manage their time and focus as they plan their work. The