Backing away from agile, the wrong lens

I have already explored two reasons that might lead people give up on agile.  The first was losing their focus on being good at what they do and the second was implementing agile approaches as a goal rather than a means to an end.

This time I thought I would look at another common situation – when becoming more agile is probably a good idea, but the people who want to implement the change are in fact reproducing the old way of working that they want to get rid of.

My slightly weird theory is that people want to change, but the way they are currently interpreting the world gets in the way.

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Why are people backing away from agile (theory 2) – who is the tool?

I recently ran a coaching session for a team who have been adopting agile.  They were struggling to gain value from some of the practices and felt a little guilty, but I was impressed with how they collaborated, focused on what mattered and took accountability for delivery.

I told them that they were actually pretty agile, but they were not making the best use of the agile ceremonies or the techniques such as user stories.

It got me thinking about the value of agile and where I had seen it work.   Then I started thinking about why it failed in so many cases.   And that is what this article is about – why agile often seems to fail when the coach and the team want it to work.

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Agile starting in kindergarten?

Earlier this year my daughter came to work with me.  Although she was only 6 years old at the time, she came to co-deliver a day in the agile coaching course that I was running.

It was interesting to watch as she explained the growth mindset, “golden conversations” and the importance of mixing both persistence and flexibility in order to build resilience.

But where did she learn all that?  I would love to say that having an agile coach for a father helped her, but I am increasingly starting to fear that in fact, her grade one class is a high performing agile team and that somehow we are “un-teaching” kids agile so that they struggle as adults.

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