The Fragile Agile List

This is an ever growing list. The sole objective of this list is to challenge the agile champions to create some new mistakes, instead of the known ones in the list, and to help me to add them to this list by sharing them with me 🙂

  1. Absence of well articulated business case for agile transition
  2. Lack of management commitment / understanding
  3. Lack of product owner commitment / understanding
  4. Bad requirements engineering and wrong source
  5. Proxy product owners without any understanding of the ground reality
  6. Bad technical design
  7. Overselling agile
  8. Lack of empiricism
  9. Lack of rigor of corrective / preventive actions
  10. Partial training
  11. Insufficient training 
  12. Lack of awareness of agile principles
  13. Cultural conflicts
  14. Lack of quality of agreements 
  15. Influence of organizational politics 
  16. Just, Certified Agile Masters 
  1. Absence of well articulated business case for agile transition – Why are you doing it?. When will you say that it is successful?. By what date?. If we have clarity on these, the probability of success is very high. 
  2. Lack of management commitment / understanding– They think that agility is something money can buy, and unfortunately money alone cannot make it part of your organizational culture. It takes commitment over a longer period of time.
  3. Lack of product owner commitment / understanding – Many product owners lack role clarity. They act as traditional senior project managers and supervises the work of scrum master and the development team, craving for control, every day. Funeral of agile. 
  4. Requirements are scheduled into sprint without validating them – On many occasions, many of the requirements turn out to be irrelevant for the end user, as the source of the requirements are wrong.
  5. Proxy product owners without any understanding of the ground reality (linked to point 4). 
  6. Bad design – Whatever said and done, only a good design can scale, can include last minute changes easily. Many times, agile frameworks are adopted half way, as a quick fix measure to solve the problems of a project resting on bad architecture. That is not going to work, unless and until the code is re-engineered.
  7. Overselling agile – The expectations are not set correctly. Agile is projected as the silver bullet for all problems.
  8. Lack of empiricism – Without empirical data, progress cannot be measured. Improvement cannot be measured.
  9. Lack of rigor of corrective and preventive actions – People are hesitant to get into the real root causes and solve them, instead they are fine with quick fixes.
  10. Partial training – The full team is not trained, they do not have a common understanding of agile. ‘Just do it’ attitude will not work.
  11. Insufficient training – The trainer might not have given proper emphasis on the value system required for agile to be successful, instead, would have focused on the framework. Understanding the agile frameworks is the easiest part, where as how all the parts of the framework work together and create the pull required to achieve improved productivity is the key.
  12. Lack of awareness of the agile principles – The trainer / coach ignoring the agile principles part and focusing too much on the framework. Mastering the framework is much easier than mastering the principles.
  13. Cultural conflicts – Very often it is about ‘self organizing teams’ within a command and control’ corporate culture, that makes it difficult.
  14.  Lack of quality agreements – Majority of the agreements in the meeting rooms are political agreements, which can be interpreted or misinterpreted as emotional intelligence. People do not really agree, when they say ‘I agree’ due to two major reasons; 1) Lack of financial security 2) Lack of expert power. Without having these two secured, one cannot be bold and correct.
  15. Influence of organizational politics –  spilling into the agile way of working. Account manager acting as the ‘product owner’ trying to control things through the ‘proxy product owner’ by passing the ‘scrum master’. This is very dangerous as no one will dare even to accept the existence of this. 
  16. Just, Certified Agile Masters – who forgot about agile, the day got certified at the end of the two day corporate training program, who attended the program because his boss asked him to attend it. 

If I can put one touch of rosy sunset into the life of any man or woman, I shall feel that I have worked with God. Gilbert K. Chesterton

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Captured at marine drive kochi, with lumix fz 200

Agile implementation stories, Effective application of theory U, in agile coaching

Right now I am in the middle of a consulting assignment of transitioning a large team from ‘scrum but’ to right scrum. When I say right scrum, I refer to the scrum guide by Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland which can be downloaded from http://www.scrum.org.

This team from a very large multi national product company came with the baggage of ‘I know scrum, and now you teach me scrum’ scrum attitude, because they have been practising some sort of scrum, which was not new for me, as i have seen the same attitude in several other teams. Since agile is value based, like religions, a loss in faith is very difficult to be restored. No amount of talking would have convinced them. At least that was my judgment,based on my past experiences with teams with some experience in scrum, and I would have carried forward that judgment in the normal course. As a coincidence, this was the time I came across the theory ‘U’ which was advocating the postponement of the three fears of;

Fear of judgment
Fear of cynicism
Fear of change

for effective change management.

I decided to implement the concept of ‘postponement of these fears’ at every stakeholder level, me being the first one. All the coaching sessions started with the request to postpone these fears till the completion of the first sprint, and the results are very positive. After experiencing the right scrum, most of these fears are automatically addressed.

Better than the original…

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Just completed a two day workshop at abb bangalore

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