Killing agile

The adoption rate for agility inside and outside the software industry is at an exponential growth. I observe that more and more corporate consultancies are gaining ground in the market and more and more enterprise organisations change from plan driven into iterative and incremental ways of working. This is pretty awesome! I think. But is it really as awesome as it appears?

As a consequence of the hype growth I hear more and more people having bad experience with agile frameworks ranging from SAFe, LeSS, Nexus, Scrum, Kanban etc. I guess this is an expected outcome when agile is spreading around the globe reaching CEOs, managers and employees. The more people who strive for agility, the more people will be burned.

I once heard a client stating that “we have tried creating empowered agile teams before and it ended up in a disaster since their deliveries didn’t meet the customers expectations and therefore we will not do any more agile in our organisation”. This is bad. I mean, really bad. But fortuneatly, it doesn’t have anything to do with agile or the agile frameworks. Going into the discussion with the client I found that the problem was a lack of trust and stakeholder involvement in the proces. Fixing the issue wasn’t easy, but the problem was easy to locate and visualise.

As of recently, I have tried to minimize my own use of the word “agile” and instead focus on the benefits that we try to achieve: close collaboration with our customers, creating teams favoring individuals and interaction, shorter lead time from idea to market and being able to respond to changing priorities.

I have found that removing the word “agile” from the discussion and instead focusing on what we try to achieve, actually helps a lot. Working with the proven frameworks, I often tend to say that we are inspired by them and tailor them to fit our purpose (even though we might do 0 tailoring at all).

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