Leadership and management play an important role at all scales. While being a servant leader is important, it is also important to hold the big view of the organization. In essence the purpose of leadership is to create the direction the organization is moving in The purpose of management is create an organization in which the development/IT organization can autonomously implement this vision. This respects the ability of workers to self-direct and self-organize while creating an effective eco-system within which they can work. This is called Middle-Up-Down Management, and although not explicitly called out by SAFe, is the best model to implement SAFe’s management requirements.
n any organization, the layer of middle management – those who sit between the topmost strategic level and the level of gemba – where the work is actually done – can be either the largest barrier to change or a true catalyst for improvement. In many agile transformations, the role of middle management is not only undefined – they are cast as the antagonist to any productive change.
We believe that management – both strategic and middle/operational – has a key role to play both in transformation and in the ongoing success of the lean-agile organization. We subscribe to Nonaka’s vision of middle management as the place where strategic direction meets creative response – and where strategy is shared downward and real-world learning is shared upward.
In our model of transformation, transformation itself becomes a part of the work to be done – and middle management becomes the focus of getting to done and the ‘owners’ of the new forms of leadership and work that it unleashes.