Unraveling the “Power of Three” in Agile Leadership with Tanner Wortham

image with three interconnected triangles, symbolizing the interconnectedness and balance of agile leadership principlesAs a frequent host of the Agile Uprising podcast, I’m privileged to engage in conversations that unravel the intricacies of many things, including leadership dynamics, and high-performance teams. In a recent episode, I had the pleasure of sitting down with Tanner Wortham to delve into the “Power of Three” in the context of agile leadership and transformation journeys.

Military Leadership Principles and Agile Ways of Working

Tanner, drawing from his background in the Marine Corps and extensive experience in Agile leadership coaching, brought a unique perspective to our conversation. We explored the parallels between military leadership principles and Agile practices, finding intriguing connections that shed light on effective team collaboration and decision-making.

One of the key takeaways from our discussion was the significance of embracing the uncertainty inherent in both military operations and Agile projects. In the Marine Corps, the concept of a five-paragraph order was highlighted, emphasizing the importance of understanding why a task is essential, what needs to be done, and who is responsible. This structured approach enables decentralized decision-making, a crucial aspect of Agile teams.

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Maintaining Focus Even In Chaos

The “Power of Three” was another focal point of our conversation, drawing attention to the simplicity and effectiveness of organizing thoughts, tasks, or goals into three distinct elements. We explored how this principle aligns with Scrum practices, emphasizing the importance of maintaining focus on a few vital aspects rather than overwhelming teams with an extensive list of objectives. It’s about finding the balance between depth and breadth in our goals and actions. See the agile leadership principle: Simplicity

Managing Meeting Madness

In the Agile world, the tension between maker and manager meeting time is an ever-present challenge. Tanner and I discussed the nuances of this dynamic, reflecting on the need to create a conducive environment for both makers (those who need focused, uninterrupted time) and managers (those requiring quick answers and information). The anecdote of the “Harry Potter jelly beans” (thanks Frank!) served as a humorous yet effective strategy for managing interruptions, reinforcing the need for understanding and respecting different work styles.

The Power of Movement in Agile Leadership

The conversation seamlessly transitioned into the power of movement. We explored the idea that even when faced with uncertainty, taking a step, any step, can be a powerful catalyst for learning and progress. Drawing parallels with military training, where controlled scenarios allow leaders to identify competencies and build confidence, we emphasized the importance of creating a safe environment for teams to experiment, fail, and learn.

Ownership of One’s Own Growth

Our discussion touched on empowerment within organizations, highlighting the notion that individuals must take charge of their own empowerment. It’s not solely the responsibility of the organization to empower its members, but rather a mutual process where individuals actively seek opportunities and take ownership of their growth. See also: Deliberately Developmental Organizations

This Too Shall Pass

As we wrapped up our conversation, Tanner introduced a thought-provoking concept—the “ring of this too shall pass.” In times of success, it serves as a reminder to appreciate the moment, while during challenging times, it offers solace and a perspective that difficulties are temporary. It’s a powerful tool for maintaining resilience and perspective in the face of both triumphs and tribulations.

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