Don’t agile the Agile
I have been known to frequently say say don’t agile the Agile. I use this quip in two ways:
- To demonstrate the importance of patience in rolling out Agile. I consider patience a critical ingredient in the ‘secret sauce’ required to properly introduce Agile in a company that is new to Agile methods.
- To set expectations realistically for executive who wonder about the payoff period for an Agile roll-out. It is particularly important to do so when an executive has a view of Agile as a silver bullet.
During the Rally Agile Success Tour I realized many Agile champions are under pressure in their companies to promise quick results. No doubt, Agile gives you good forums to demonstrate what has been accomplished -bi-weekly demos and frequent releases. But, Agile also introduces a lot of change:
- The software changes. You are doing new software, evolving software or fixing software.
- The software process changes. You are introducing Agile methods.
- The organization changes. New organizational entities such as Scrum teams get formed and evolve.
These three dimensions of change take place simultaneously. You and your teams need time to assimilate the changes. In particular, techniques to manage inter-dependencies between the three could require a fair amount of time to master.
Jim Highsmith told me he asks the executive with whom he discusses Agile roll-out to recount an example how his/her organization has recently managed change. I borrowed this good question from Jim and I use it often. The typical response to the question is a minute of silence followed by something like “this is a very good question”. In most cases, the executive “fails” to provide an example that has as many dimension of change as an Agile roll-out would have. When this point is reached, the message don’t agile the Agile is heard.
(Note: Agile roll-out can and often will introduce additional dimensions of change. For example, you might need to revise your customer support policy as well as the way your Support organization functions. I do not mention such secondary changes in this post as the three primary dimensions indicated above are more than plenty).