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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Should we use a framework like SAFE or LESS to bring agile into large organisations?

Editors warning – sorry this article is a bit long, but I was in a rush so I didn’t have time to shorten it 🙂

I have found that agile practices work really well for a team, as long as you know the secret of agile (found here).  You can also see some videos on how to do agile really well here.

But helping a whole organisation go agile is a little trickier.

Of course, once we see what happens when a single team get their agile mojo, it is natural that we start thinking about repeating their success on a larger scale.

Quite often we also observe that the thing holding the newly agile team back is the very thing that is supposed to support them – the organisation.

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Watching some Agile is Awesome videos from Henrik Kniberg

There is a lot of material out there that says “Agile is awesome” but a lot of  it is more annoying than useful.  The material seems to consist of a blog article or video with someone saying that they found “waterfall” and “old school” companies to be bad, but then they found Scrum and their team was transformed to utopia.

So I thought I would share a couple of videos that demonstrate how agile can actually be implemented and be really awesome, where the video includes a decent argument about the things needed to make it work..

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Can I still use a use case on my agile project – even if the cool kids don’t use them anymore?

I have been told that use cases are very old fashioned now and that all the cool people have moved onto agile user stories.

But I am old school and I still like to pull the old approaches out every now and then and take them for a spin.

I found myself explaining use cases in both a lecture (where the company wanted me to explain them to the BA teams) and a small team where people had been doing use case diagrams but not really use cases. Then I got asked in a BA course – “do you use stories for agile projects and use cases for waterfall ones?”

My answer was “it depends – probably just ask the BA”. But the student responded that she was a BA and that all the other cool BA’s would make fun of her if she wore the wrong clothes to school or used the wrong tool on the wrong project.

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Assessing a team’s readiness to adopt agile practices over coffee

I just finished an article on assessing the likelihood that a team will successfully adopt a change, such as a new process.  So this arrtice provides an example of how the approach I discussed might work in practice.

Lets say that my client, Jenny, wants to implement “Agile practices” in her organisation.  So she buys offers me a cup of coffee in return for a 20 minute consultation.

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