Thursday, May 24, 2018

Most Common Mistakes During the Transition to Agile (Part 2) | Supreme Agile

תוצאת תמונה עבור ‪agile transformation‬‏
When examining the last few years, we can see the extended amount of organizations that use Agile frameworks (Especially Scrum) as the preferred software development methodology. Some organizations had a massive success implementing and adopting Agile. While other organizations achieved partial success due to well-known problems that I will cover in this article.

Well, how can it be that organizations fail to adopt Agile? This is despite the fact that it is well known, there are many implementers, coaches and endless knowledge on the internet that is available for everyone. 

Well, the answer is not surprising and relatively simple. Agile is a document with a set of principles and values that are interpreted differently by different people. The direct result of this interpretation is the creation of too many ways to implement the method and the abandon of the real spirit of what this document really represents. 

This article will present some of the most common pitfalls made in organizations while implementing Agile. My recommendation for you is to pay attention to each one of the items described below and to ensure that you avoid them to achieve a successful transition process. 

Mistake #13 – Playing the “Blame” Game

Scrum uses ‘Teams’ and not ‘individuals’ therefore it is hugely important that all team members will work together to achieve a common goal. As part of this approach, scrum teams will succeed or fail as a single unit; there is no room for blaming one person or another.

There is huge importance that the team will understand this from the beginning. Any other approach will not contribute to the sense of collaborative ownership, Innovation and a solid learning environment that will allow the team to grow. 

Mistake #14 –Unsuitable Physical Environment

Scrum embraces “Face-to-face” communication. Therefore, we must ensure the physical environment allows the Scrum team to work together in the same physical area (We must ensure the team will get the environment that will allow them to work as a single unit).

In addition, the environment must be a physically supportive so to allow the team to perform the different Scrum ceremonies. The location should allow the team to focus on the meeting agenda and to remove any external interruptions that can affect their concentration.

Mistake #15 – Bottom-Up instead of Top-Down

I saw so many implementations that completely fail due to the missing understanding that you cannot scale Agile prior to resolving the more basic issues that you will find in almost all Agile transitions. Once the organization decided to make an Agile transition, we should start by resolving the most common problems first; these problems related to communication issues, organization culture and the state of mind.

To allow the organization to scale an Agile project; you first need to resolve these basic issues, so try to start from Bottom-Up instead of Top-Down, once you have the building blocks at a team level, you can add the second level of scaling Agile. 

Mistake #16 – The Agile Mindset

There is a Hugh difference between ‘Doing Agile’ and ‘Being Agile’; the most important factor that differentiates between them is the mindset of the people involved in the process. Agile demands a different mindset from what people used to have in old traditional methodologies (e.g. waterfall).

Know this; you will fail to make a successful transition if your clients will keep their old habits that rely on a previous mindset. Your main goal should be to change this mindset by showing them the Hugh benefits of Agile. This includes why it is good for them as well as for the organization.

Mistake #17 – It is easy to do it if you understand it

I think that it is a basic assumption that people will be more dedicated to any change if they first understand the logical reasons that led to the change. People need to understand why Agile was chosen as the preferred approach to handle the organization goals and what are the ‘principles and values’ they will need to embrace in order to succeed.

Mistake #18 – Micro Management

Following the Agile manifesto, there is no room for micromanagement, scrum masters, Product Owners and even the scrum facilitators are not allowed to determine the amount of work that the team will accomplish per iteration, Assign tasks or tell the team members what to do.

Scrum provides ceremonies whose primary function is to increase visibility, communication and the transparency of the current project state.

Mistake #19 – Commitment is just a buzzword

It is simple, without real commitment you will fail at anything in life. This is the same as setting a goal to reduce 20Kg from your weight without making a real change in your current lifestyle. Agile is no different. To be able to make a successful transition, it is not enough to want it, people must be truly committed to the process with the understanding that they will need to make major changes in their state of mind and how they work.  Believe me, it is not obvious that people will agree to do it once they really understand the consequences.

Mistake #20 – Agile is a never-ending journey

I really don’t like to describe it as a mistake, but once you choose to be Agile you need to understand that it’s a never-ending journey of learning. It is most probably the best way for the organization to keep consistent growth.

Mistake #21 – Planning in Agile? What for?

Planning is a key part of any Agile project. This is especially important once we start to make a transition from traditional methodologies. The common pitfall I often see in many organizations is the misunderstanding that planning can be ignored because Agile does not use upfront planning, this is wrong!!

In Agile, there is no “Less” planning, the main difference is that we do it differently. Instead of doing one major planning at the start of the project (Traditional Methods), we now perform a “High-Level” planning at the start of the project and then consequently micro-planning is conducted rapidly prior to the start of each new iteration. 

Mistake #22 – Documentation in Agile? Really?

We are doing Agile, so there is no reason to use Documentation anymore! Well, No. although the Agile manifesto species that we should aim for a “Working Software” instead of “Comprehensive Documentation” it does not say anything about ignoring documentation or not using it at the different phases of the project.

The main difference in Agile is we can do it per iteration and not in a single static document at the start of the project (due to obvious reasons of maintenance and changed requirements that arise during the project).

Mistake #23 – Relying on “Best Practices”

In the last five years, I was involved in more than 50 Agile transitions that were made in both small and large organizations. During this time I come to a single conclusion that each transition is different, there are no best practices that you can take and enforce on one organization because it worked in another. Each transition is different because the factors are not the same for all organizations, just think about the organizational culture, team majority and the organization real readiness to make the change.

My best TIP that closes this article is to not use any “Guide” book, Checklist or “Best Practices” during Agile transitions. instead, investigate the organization, its state of mind, the organization needs and goals. Only once you understand these areas then you can start to build a worthy plan to perform a successful transition, any other solution will fail even before you had the chance to try it. 


My Presentations