The Agile Executive

Making Agile Work

How Hard Should the Agile Champion Push?

with 5 comments

A question which often comes up in the course of the Rally Agile Success Tour is about the balance to strike between conviction, passion and politics. By virtue of his/her interest in the topic, the Agile champion is often more knowledgeable than his/her superiors on what Agile really is and which strategies are best suited to roll it out. A thoughtful push toward Agile values, principles and practices may lead to major improvements in the way an organization practices Agile. In contrast, an overly hard push might lead to regression in the state of Agile affairs. Moreover, it could easily lead to a breach of the psychoilogical contract between the Agile champion and employer.

Reading The Bureaucratic Phenomenon – a book recommended to me by Forrester’s Tom Grant – I found the following nugget:

The power of decision making within a bureaucratic system of organization is located exactly at the points where the stability of the internal “political” system is preferred to the achievement of the functional goals of the organization.

The specific nature of the bureaucracy with which one has to cope changes, of course, from one company to another.  No matter what kind of bureaucracy the Agile champion has to cope with, the observation cited above applies. The Agile champion can successfully push hard as long as he/she does not cross the fine line between achievement of functional goals and “political” stability.

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Written by israelgat

September 13, 2009 at 11:12 am

5 Responses

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  1. […] How Hard Should the Agile Champion Push? « The Agile Executive theagileexecutive.com/2009/09/13/how-hard-should-the-agile-champion-push – view page – cached A question which often comes up in the course of the Rally Agile Success Tour is about the balance to strike between conviction, passion and politics. By virtue of his/her interest in the topic, the Agile champion is often more knowledgeable than his/her superiors on what Agile really is and which strategies are best suited to roll it out. A thoughtful push toward Agile values, principles and practices may lead to major improvements in the way an organization practices Agile. In contrast, an overly hard push might lead to regression in the state of Agile affairs. Moreover, it could easily lead to a breach of the psychoilogical contract between the Agile champion and employer. — From the page […]

  2. Yes, but that’s just the problem: such Agile goals as involving stakeholders richly are just exactly destabilizers of the internal status quo.

    jrep

    September 14, 2009 at 11:22 am

  3. Generally, as the Agile initiative scales, you can push up, out or downstream. You pick your battles, choosing the “dimension” most appropriate to push on under the principle proposed in the post. For example, you might want to push hard on the PMO but not on Customer Support, or vice versa.

    Israel

    Israel Gat

    September 14, 2009 at 11:56 am

  4. A particular tricky version of this can happen when the documented goals of the organization don’t match the behaviours.

    For instance, an individual’s performance plan might contain something like ” … shall foster and promote Agile practices …..” When that individual comes up against that fine political line and discovers that the organization doesn’t react favorably when an Agile principle is cited, and doesn’t respect Agile practices, this can look like, and actually be, a lose-lose situation for that developer.

    Robert Tycast

    September 15, 2009 at 10:14 am

  5. And (a lose-lose situation) for the organization as well.

    Israel

    Israel Gat

    September 19, 2009 at 10:15 pm


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