Doing Agile

2022 03 01 head

In the midst of the agile adoption explosion, many teams are experiencing difficulties.

Organizations often mix agile with Scrum.

One of the most common misconceptions about Scrum is that it is synonymous with agile. Agile Manifesto is an umbrella term that refers to a family of approaches that share common values and principles.

Scrum is a commonly used agile framework that offers suggestions for how work can be organized to maximize the value of the end-user.

While Scrum is implemented at a product development team level, agile has a focus on the entire organization including its leadership and company culture. Both are relatively easy to start down the path but difficult to master.

Many organizations use Scrum in combination with other agile principles and practices. Even if Scrum seems like a relatively easy framework to implement, there are changes needed on the individual and organizational level that scrum does not address.

Teams often try hard to use new ways of working and learning. The challenge is to explore the new approaches and not to fall back to traditional processes.

According to the 15th Annual State of Agile report, 46% of survey respondents report struggles with inconsistent practices and 43% report cultural classes.

What are signs your teams are struggling with agile and lean adoption?

Common Symptoms

2022 03 01 resistence

Below are some common symptoms of teams who are pretending to be agile:

  • Teams are not delivering a done, a usable increment at the end of each sprint. By usable we mean that the product is fully tested and provides a fully usable increment of valuable functionality. The product increment must be deployed on a server for internal or external use.

  • The daily Scrum is a status update instead of a small planning session. Reporting to attending managers is a clear sign of distrust and micromanagement.

  • The sprint review meeting is merely a demonstration, and not an opportunity for collaboration. A clear sign of dysfunctional Scrum is when the content and the priority of backlog items is never updated during a sprint review.

  • The sprint retrospective does not result in actionable improvement ideas that the Scrum team addresses proactively.

  • The quality of the product resulting from the Scrum team’s work is not increasing [1].

  • The Scrum master is not coaching the Scrum Team or the parent organization in techniques to improve the use of the Scrum framework.

  • Developers do not self-manage or collaborate with the Product Owner on ways to maximize the product’s value.

  • The organization does not respect the Product Owner’s decisions.

  • Resource managers do not know how to support agile teams.

Dark Agile

2022 03 01 scrum empirism

The problem is when a team begins to use an agile framework incorrectly.

The team begins to focus more on their adherence to the process than they do to stay true to Agile values.

This is Dark Agile [4].

The team presents itself as agile and believes it is practicing agile, but it is not. It is practicing a framework without the support of agile values.

This can lead to micromanagement, a squashing of adaptability toward customers’ changing needs, and an extreme lessening of the benefits gained from Agile practice.

Remember that Scrum, Lean, and agile approaches are tools to improve the quality and effectiveness of your product development.

Scrum is a framework and a set of techniques to help you improve your way of creating awesome products. The ultimate goal is the product, never the process.

How to Be Agile?

Emphasizes key values and principles over blindly applying a method [9].

  • Apply the twelve principles of the agile manifesto.

  • Please read the [8]. Delve in documented experiences [1], [2], [3].

  • Empiricism and lean thinking are the foundations of Scrum. Measure your work to find out if your improvement measures are successful. Drop all initiatives which do not provide measurable improvements in quality, effectiveness and productivity.

  • Train your collaborators [5], [6], [7].

  • Visualize your initiatives and their metrics. I want to see typical lean diagrams on the walls of your project space. If your Scrum masters or product owners have only attended the initial two days training and never continued on the path, they are laymen.
    You should work with professionals.

  • Check your culture. Agile means you always trust all your collaborators. Your ways of working emphasize transparency, inspection and adaptation.
    Therefore, all information is available to all collaborators!

  • Hire for cultural agile fit. Recognize not everybody wants to develop products in the agile way. Please hire collaborators who are comfortable with agile approaches, autonomy and accountability.

1. Your organization focuses more on how to write stories in JIRA instead of delivering awesome products.