The Value of Slack with Andrew Fuqua

LeadingAgile SoundNotes

In Andrew Fuqua’s blog post “Slack and the Agile Manager’s Role: Be the Slack” he shared his thoughts on the need for management to make space and time for teams and individuals to be creative and innovative. In this podcast Andrew and Dave Prior dig deeper on the topic, how and why organizations resist it, and how managers can get started with introducing time to allow teams to be innovative.

Show Notes

00:15 Podcast Begins

00:48 Some background on Andrew’s work as an Enterprise Consultant

01:47 Introducing the topic of Slack

02:05 How the PMBOK defines slack 03:00 How Andrew defines slack and what he focuses on when he’s looking at it

04:12 Why wringing all the slack out of a team is not necessarily a good idea

05:00 Finding the slack you need to keep

05:44 Flow Trumps Waste and Value Trumps Flow

06:56 When you see downtime, what do you lose when you feel compelled to fill it up?

07:44 Whose job is it to create an environment and culture that supports creativity?

08:33 Why it goes beyond the responsibilities of a ScrumMaster


09:24 Someone is going to come along and eat your lunch!

09:43 Why organizations forget to take the time to be innovative

10:40 Why it is about more than simply holding innovation days.

12:18 What’s the manager supposed to do in Agile anyway?

12:54 How we end up with managers who do not know how to manage and like to crack the whip

14:09 Creativity also needs sustainable pace

15:26 Making space for creativity every single day

16:31 The manager shouldn’t be delivering stuff 1

7:07 Taking personal responsibility for protecting your own space/time to be innovative

17:43 How Andrew creates and protects the innovation space for himself

19:08 Time spent recovering from working at an unsustainable pace is not the same as slack time set aside for innovation

20:09 How Managers can introduce Slack

22:05 How much slack should I make sure each person has and how do I track it?

22:42 How do you become a change agent that will transform an organization to support Agile?

23:18 Focusing on Lead Time to help the organization understand what needs to change

23:53 Is the best way to create change changing the CEO

24:09 What a manager can do to understand Slack more

24:47 How do we get more creativity in the organization

25:13 Happiness Metrics, Employee Retention and taking a baseline before introducing Slack

25:51 Autonomy, Mastery, Purpose

26:56 Things a Manager Should Not Do

29:02 Beware the Hero

29:58 Parting words of advice for a manager who is trying to understand how to let Slack live in their environment

30:42 How to reach Andrew

Links from the Podcast

Slack and the Agile Manager’s Role: Be the Slack
 Slack: Getting Past Burnout, Busywork and the Myth of Total Efficiency by Tom DeMarco
 How to Use an A3 In An Agile Transformation

Contacting Andrew

You can reach Andrew via LeadingAgile at
 On Twitter at
 On LinkedIn at

Contacting Dave

You can reach Dave on the LeadingAgile site at
 On Twitter at
 Or on his personal site at:


If you have comments on the podcast, or have questions for the LeadingAgile coaches that you’d like to have addressed in a future episode of LeadingAgile’s SoundNotes, you can reach Dave at

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