Friday, March 25, 2016

The Pitfalls in Agile movement

Agile is a leadership mentality, substance over style, change over stagnation, and innovation over rigid rules.

Agile is emerged as a philosophy to run today’s digital organizations with a set of principles to refine business management and culture. However, it is a thorny journey, What are the biggest problems for people or companies when they decide to go Agile - not just doing Agile, but being agile? What is the hardest thing when you choose that road? What are your biggest pains? And what are the pitfalls to fail you, and how can you learn from your mistakes to make a continuous improvement?

“Doing Agile mentality”: Agile transformation is not an easy journey. The best way to fail is thinking that you will implement agile inside a business unit without taking into account the whole enterprise. Failing to realize a business requirement != A User Story. Why? Because it’s about to integrate. Take any agile software development method and think about all the business unit and people who have to engage to create the product. It is a corporate management philosophy.

Lack of “Agile” leadership: Executive management has not become educated on the intricate value of Agile principles and practices. Executives are the ones with real change power and control. It is also, by definition, their job to build the most effective organization possible for the company. They should be the most knowledgeable agile practitioners.

Misunderstanding about Agile principles: Lack of periodic health check in terms of team level, program level, and enterprise level adoption. Often “Agile" is used as a near synonym for "unprofessionalism"; "pleasing ourselves"; "we don't do estimates, we're agile"; "there is no documentation, we're agile"; "in agile only the team can decide what to work on"; appearing self-serving is a huge barrier to the credibility of agile.

Stifling innovation: People stop trying to uncover new ways of doing things. They assume we have the "one framework to rule them all" and get complacent. That leads to atrophy and what was once a good method becomes an anchor. The belief that following rituals leads to guaranteed success - there is a certain cargo cult mentality (mainly with Scrum) that confuses blind obedience to "the rules" with actually approaching a problem in an agile manner. The real problem is people do not really understand what agile is. Most of the times they use the word "agile" when in fact they are talking about agile software development. People often forget the start of the manifesto "We are uncovering better ways of developing software by doing it and helping others do it."

“Agile style” over “agile substance”: The rise of experts and certifications that are not backed by practical experience. People start to care less about doing it and more about being seen as an expert, and the pitfalls to be truly agile include (1) Too much focus on agility, not enough focus on aptness. (2) Too much focus on brands and practices, not enough focus on what is needed. (3) Consequently, too much value in the brands so people claim them with no justification.

Everything is in a constant state of flux. Agile is all about  iterative communication and iteration, continuous delivery and improvement. Agile can't be threatened by those roadblocks or pitfalls, a shared vision is something that is needed to help organizations strive for a better working engagement. It is a leadership mentality, substance over style, change over stagnation, and innovation over rigid rules.


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