Agile and Lean for Executives: Principles, Organization, and Change


What’s the single most important insight for a senior manager to understand about Agile, Lean, and popular agile frameworks such as Scrum? That these are not a practice or process. Rather, they are or strongly imply an organizational design, which impacts group structures, hierarchy, site strategy, roles, positions, processes, and basic policies (such as budgeting, career path, and rewards).

Organizational design is the proper remit of executive management, and so it is critical that you actively both learn and lead a successful Agile adoption. This is not something you can “phone in” your support for, or delegate to mid-level management.

A second key understanding is that this change involves both Product Management and R&D (or “Business” and “IT”) together, and so heads of both groups will want to attend together.

In this 2-day highly-participative course, you get a thorough introduction to the organizational design implications of Agile, Lean, and Scrum — in both R&D and Product Management — and managing its adoption, from the perspective of what a senior manager needs to know and do.

As highlighted in The Fifth Discipline — from MIT Sloan School of Business professor Peter Senge, and named by the Harvard Business Review as one of the seminal management books of the past 75 years — a critical skill for leadership is Systems Thinking. Therefore, a significant part of the course focuses on actively learning to apply Systems Thinking to your organizational system and agile adoption, with Causal Loop Modeling in small groups working together.

There will also be an in-depth clinic with Craig Larman, based on his long experience with agile and lean adoptions (including scaling with LeSS) and working with senior management.

In addition to course material, each participant will also receive 2 books by Craig Larman:



  • Why Agile & Lean: Benefits to Your Company?
  • Evidence
  • Systems Thinking, Organizational Design, and the Contract Game

Principles & Management Implications

  • Empirical Process Control for the Entire Organization
  • Lean Thinking: Across All Functions
  • Systems Thinking: From Local to Global Optimization
  • Whole-Product Focus: Group and Role Impacts
  • Customer Centric: Process and Group Impacts
  • Self-Managing Teams: From Theory X to Theory Y


  • The 3 Key Adoption Principles
  • Getting Starting
  • Growing Your Adoption
  • Culture Follows Structure
  • Job Safety, but not Role Safety
  • Definition of Done and its Organizational and Change Impact


  • Feature Teams & Component Teams
  • Self-managing Teams
  • Role of Managers
  • Product Owner and the 5 Relationships
  • ScrumMasters
  • Typical Organizational Structures and Patterns

Agile Frameworks

  • Scrum
  • LeSS
  • and others

In-Depth Special Topics: A Deep-Dive Q&A Clinic

Although there are some constants in an agile and lean adoption, there are many variations, due to myriad contexts. And there are many special-topic questions that participants have, usually variations of “When this context, how do we…?” These questions range from “contracts to career path.” Therefore, a full half-day of this course is dedicated to a structured Q&A session that works through a group-prioritized list of burning issues and questions. Craig Larman, drawing on his many years of experience of actual agile & lean adoptions working with senior managers, will dialog and explore solutions with the group.

Maximum Participants


Texts and Course Notes

There will be several PDFs of course notes, and supporting student learning aids, that will need to be printed and distributed to students

As mentioned, in addition to course material, each participant will also receive 2 books on agile & lean, by Craig Larman: