An Agile Seat at the Table

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An Agile Seat at the Table

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There are two aspects I’m noodling on in this article— 

  1. Having a Seat at the Table, versus…

  2. Having a real Seat at the Table.


  1. Being empowered and supported to effect change, versus…

  2. Having real empowerment and support to effect change.

In an agile transformation to an agile mindset and agile ways of working. You might be asking—what’s the difference? Well, I’ll share some stories to explain, but before that, I should explain the role context here? Who am I referring to? Well, it could be anyone tasked with guiding an organizational agile transformation. For example:

  • An Agile change agent;

  • A Director of Agile Transformation;

  • An Enterprise-level Agile Coach;

  • An Agile PMO Director or Leader;

  • Or the Agile Steering Group.

Should be considering the following recommendations.

First, the table is as high in the organization as you can go. The higher the better. Why? Because positional authority and titles matter. A lot. I wish they didn’t, but they do.

And the role matters. For example, many organizations have a leadership hierarchy within the leadership team itself. For example, in many high-tech companies, the Chief Product Officer and Chief Technology Officer have much more inherent power and influence than the Chief People Officer. On the surface, they appear to be equal. But they’re not. So be aware of the real power structure.

Another example is where company founders have more power, independent of their actual roles. My point is, if you’re chartered with changing the ways of working in an organization to agile, then the more positional authority and power you have, the better.

And the more you’ve been granted, the more serious the organization is about its shift to agility.

Here I’ll use a story shared by a colleague of mine.

She is essentially the PMO head of a large financial firm that is being chartered with organizational and operational transformation. One of the initiatives in her purview is moving from a project-oriented focus to a product-oriented one and becoming more value-stream-oriented in prioritizing and picking organizational priorities and investments.

In a recent all-hands meeting, the CEO of the organization highlighted this agile operational initiative as the #2 strategic priority for the company. They explained the WHY behind that and their vision for year-over-year company evolutionary outcomes.

When I spoke to her afterward, I thought that this was a great example of real support as opposed to lip-service or lightly committed support. That is, the entire leadership team understood the focus and priority of their agile transformation and became committed to helping my colleague in any way possible.

I’ll sum things up this way. If you are chartered, in any fashion, in changing your organization to an agile mindset and way of working then, in order to be successful, you need—

  1. A seat at the leadership table, as high and as empowered as possible.

  2. A voice at the leadership table, a voice that is respected and listened to.

  3. Support at the leadership table, making the agile transformation strategic and of high priority.

  4. Support of your peers at the leadership table, real support in that they co-create and partner with you on strategies, goals, and outcomes.

While it’s nice to be told you have support, it’s even nicer to be shown you have a real seat at the table and the real support of the broader leadership team. In this case, actions do speak louder than words.

Stay agile my friends,



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