One of greatest strengths of the Agile Manifesto is its first value: Individuals and interactions over processes and tools. Another strength is the focus on teams in the principles behind the manifesto. However, the unfortunate side effect of this takes the focus away from the interactions between people on different teams or even in different organizations. Our experience, and we believe this is what the authors of the manifesto meant, is that the interactions between the people doing the work are what is key, regardless of whether or not they are part of the team. So, if a product manager needs to work closely with our organization’s data analytics team to gain a better understanding of what is going on in the marketplace, and our strategy team to help put those observations into context, then we want to ensure that these interactions are effective. We need to proactively collaborate between these teams to support the overall work at hand.
Caring for and maintaining healthy interactive processes is important for the people involved and should be supported and enabled by our organizational leadership. In fact, there is a leadership strategy called middle-up-down management, where management looks “up” the value stream to identify what is needed, enables the team to fulfill that need, and works with the teams downstream to coordinate work effectively. The overall goal is to coordinate locally in a manner that supports optimizing the overall workflow.