These days we all love agile. Don’t we?
- It improves release cycle
- Cheaper and better
- And – it is agile
- Team loves agile
But, I am afraid – Agile is increasingly sounding like communism- rather socialism:
1. Discussions, books and trainings talk about destroying existing processesand creating fresh ones from scratch
2. Developers, after agile training & studies, behave more like – they (The labor class) declared independence from the organization (The Capitalists)
3. Process consultants package agile as something never existed and can not be correlated to anything that existed in the past.
On the contrary, there are many similar concepts and philosophies.
- Release plan in agile vs. traditional release plans.
- Burn down chart & velocity vs. earned value measurement / equivalent.
- Feature-based WBS vs. product backlog
- Many more if you keep digging
4. The members spend lot of energy thinking how to fix managers who are used to ‘command and control’
5.Agile is said to be effective in software. How about engineering IT ? i.e. software products in engineering companies ? All agile books say yes. However the larger context of program management in terms of outsourcing, vendor management, certifications etc.. are not answered properly. It is marketed as something that fits everywhere.
Why Am I Concerned?
Do not get me wrong. I am not anti-agile. Also I am quite hands on technically as well. But I am concerned about the direction the agilists are being to led to. It is drifting. Many discussions online are around new jargons. The concepts are taught in new paradigm with no regard for existing processes and culture. You can not compare and identify the delta. Without this, it is hard to get a visualization how the entire organization is going to adopt the process changes.
Without this visualization at middle management, mindless agile adoption can wreck your organization. If team understands the balance of responsibility and authority, it is going to be healthy. If not, the culture imparted in the training may not work for the organization.
How to ensure that agile deployment in your company is in right direction?
1. Before anything, review existing processes against agile manifesto.
2. If there is large gap, you know that you need to take the agile deployment as a project.
If you perceive processes have turned into bureaucracy and culture has turned sluggish, you need to act.
3. Choose right consultant who can deliver in your company culture
Have a look at this check list here for choosing a consultant.
4. Monitor the way recommended process is evolving. Ensure that these are compatible with underlying principles in your industry and organization. It shall pass the test of common sense, at every stage.
5. Resist the urge to order new tools. If organization is used to certain enterprise PM tools, you can definitely use the same for agile as well. You can go for new tool only if it completely replaces existing tools. Increasing tool diversity is a bad idea.
6. Agile is not about demanding rights without accountability. Agile roll out has to set the culture.
- about everyone working on what is needed
- Process without bureaucracy
- Commitment to agile manifesto, less for the newer rituals & terminology
Agile need not be a fresh start
- Your trusted insiders can study what exists and what is different in agile approach. Then implement the delta.
- If it is about culture and bureaucracy, this is the right starting point, not agile process deployment.
- If it is fresh start, go for agile the way it is recommended.
- If you are in IT service without any in-house products and processes, go for SCRUM and CSM certifications. It sells.
Do I strike a chord?