July 23, 2014

Agile Coaching Blog

Continuous Improvement: How Does Authority Affect You?

During last week’s BigVisible Office Day, I led a discussion about authority. This is one of those key concepts that we all think we understand. The reality is that each of us has deeply ingrained views, experiences and emotions about authority. These deep-seated mental models affect how we react to each other in certain situations. On top of all that, authority is a primary component of both the work we do and the culture of the organizations in which we work.

Words About Authority in Continuous Improvement Context

Authority Words

In this photo are some other words and thoughts we associated with authority. The middle column are words I asked people to blurt out as what they thought of first when thinking of authority. The left column are verbs associated with authority and the right are things we “do with” authority. As a group, we built these lists as a way to set the stage for a discussion about how authority is part of our lives and our work with clients.

Continuous Improvement & Authority

I recently found it very useful to think about my own mental anchors related to authority. How do I react to it? How do I gain it? Should I have it and when? How do I react when someone is in authority over me? Do they really have authority or am I granting that to them when I shouldn’t?

Would a change to how you, your team or your organization treats authority be something valuable?

About Alan Dayley Alan Dayley

Alan brings more than 25 years of software engineering experience to his Agile Coaching practice. Agile Coach, Certified ScrumMaster, Certified Scrum Product Owner, Certified Scrum Professional.

Alan works with teams and management in strengthening the people side of creative work. A volunteer founding member of the Phoenix Scrum User Group steering team, he loves to help people learn and create innovation at their company and in their life.

“When someone is just starting out with Agile and Scrum, they need to define what the desired goal will be. What is the problem to be solved? If that problem or goal is connected to delighting customers, they will have a jump start on success!”


  1. Griffin Jones says:


    This is an interesting topic framing since I work with organizations with regulatory compliance/safety concerns that desire to adopt more of the values, principles, and practices of agile.

  2. Thank you, Griffin.

    I am curious about the context of your work. Can you describe more about how this post and the idea of “authority” are particularly interesting when working with regulatory compliance and safety concerns?