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Agile is hard

Johanna Rothman on agile adoption for the organisation:

Agile requires the discipline to move projects through teams. Multitasking is nuts in agile. Moving team members around to have the “best” specialist available for a particular team is nuts. Performance reviews for individuals is nuts. Managers have to change everything they do, if they want to move the organization to agile. Managers need to see the problems exposed by any given project’s transition to agile and work to remove those obstacles before transitioning to agile.

It’s too easy to think that just because you can get one of your teams to use an agile approach, that your organisation is now Agile. Too many managers “see the problems exposed by given project’s transition to agile” and decide to blame the agile process for the problems thus exposed.In far too many organisations I’ve seen have extremely capable teams delivering quality software in an agile process but remain – in some cases years later – completely unsupported by their senior management (and in some cases with very little support even from their CIO level).

That’s a very sad situation as it is and takes all your selling skills to get the management to “get with the program” so to speak. But this situation can be even more compounded when the management have been convinced that Agile is some sort of silver bullet that will cure all their issues. Whenever you are trying to sell agile to management, never waver from the fact that agile is hard (as everything worth doing is nearly always difficult anyway!). Agile takes discipline.

Johanna’s right to say you can’t adopt agile across an entire organisation in a big bang approach. But you can’t also adopt it without skill and commitment to doing so from managers and executives.

One Comment

  1. Robert wrote:

    When I was at Suncorp, I noticed an interesting phenomenon. The use of Agile (in the small area we did it in, anyway) enabled our section of IT to no longer be the bottleneck in the process. Unfortunately, the new bottleneck had a lot more political clout than we did, and didn’t appreciate the way our efficiency made them look bad..

    Wednesday, July 22, 2009 at 21:57 | Permalink