Selling Agile to the CEO

Getting Executive Buy-In for Agile Software Development 

The Agile Buzz

There has been a lot of buzz in recent years about Agile software development. The buzz started with the Extreme Programming approach, which mostly appealed to programmers in the trenches. As often happens, the buzz started to move up the management ranks, firstly to project managers (via the Scrum approach) and then to middle managers (via Lean Software Development).

Getting Executive Buy-In

What I haven't seen yet, is much success in getting buy-in at the senior executive level. This is a problem, since Agile is not just an approach to creating technology, but a highly effective way of aligning fast-changing business processes with ongoing evolution of the information systems that support them. To make this happen needs commitment from the whole business, and making that happen needs buy-in from senior executives.

Learning The Language of the CEOs

How do we get that buy-in? Certainly not by expecting the CEO to understand or be impressed by techno-babble. CEOs and other top executives don't care about "geek speak". We can talk until we are blue in the face about "scrum meetings", "pair programming", and being "test driven" but it will go in one ear and out the other.

Techno-babble is a foreign language to most senior executives - and even if they could speak it, much of what they hear will seem pretty irrelevant to them.

If the CEOs aren't going to learn our language, then we have to learn their's. We need to discover how senior executives work, how they think, and what compels them to action.

This is my mission: to learn to speak the foreign language that CEOs speak. To be able to express things in terms of their concerns. To see the benefits of agile from the perspective of senior executives. That is, to focus on addressing the needs of the business rather than the whims of the technologists.


I am devoting the next year of my life to achieving this, and writing up my findings in a book.


As more chapters become available I will be releasing them here:


Chapter 1: Introduction

Chapter 2: Beliefs Before Agile  

Chapter 3: Agile Beliefs

Chapter 5: Time is Money

Chapter 6: Shifting Management To Leadership

Chapter 14: Preventing Hackitecture


This is part of a book I am writing. More will be unfolding here and on my blog. Ongoing feedback would be much appreciated.