Management is not Micromanagement

Micromanagement and Management

I have had interactions with a company that has employed some of the agile practices in their line management. One of the key elements they have co-opted is the daily meetings tracking progress on the various line management activities.  This has led to a conversation with an employee (new to agile) regarding the daily stand up meeting. They saw this meeting as a waste of time and represented management not knowing how to manage.  Specifically they called the activities micromanagement.

Micromanagement is defined by Miriam-Webster’s Online Dictionary[1] as:

  • :to try to control or manage all of the small parts of (something, such as an activity) in a way that is usually not wanted or that causes problems.
  • :to manage especially with excessive control or attention to details.

That same source provides us with this definition of management[2]:

  • : the art of managing : the conducting or supervising of something

Daily Sprint Meeting as a Line Management Meeting

Let us consider these definitions in light of the daily sprint meeting. This organization is employing the daily sprint meeting in their line organization to drive performance. These questions are cut from the same cloth as those this company uses in their daily meetings.  In this meeting, we are asking three questions of our team in a brief 15 minute meeting. Those questions are:

  1. What did you do yesterday?
  2. What are you doing today?
  3. What are your obstacles or impediments?

Management responsibility is to ensure the team is able to operate in accordance with the company’s methods, and objectives.  Management is also responsible for the effective and efficient use of the corporate resources or corporate stewardship.  Management is tasked with getting the most out of the available resources.

Over the years, organizations have under gone through right-sizing, doing more with less, and a host of other euphemisms for reduction in force.  Our employees are distracted by the important/unimportant and urgent/not urgent (from Stephen Covey’s classic The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People) to the point where management must provide focus on the important and urgent, and that is well within their purview.  Management ensures the myriad distractions are mitigated or addressed, without this focus success will be difficult.


Progress is made due to focus and diligent actions toward a goal. Obstructions, obstacles and impediments must be over came or circumvented to be successful. Management’s role is to drive performance toward the activities the organization believes necessary for success.  As stewards of the organization’s resources, management has a  mandate to ensure and facilitate progress.  Measurements, and monitoring are as important for success as setting the right objectives.  Monitoring without control is pointless.   The coach of a football team does not put his players on the field and do nothing on the sidelines while the game is being played. The coach continues to drive the performance of the team – just like a manager should.

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