Three (other) common mistakes in an Agile Transformation

We have been talking a lot lately about common myth's in the Agile world, and we have covered a fair few of the most common myth's and misconceptions that exist:

Myt #4: När man jobbar agilt behövs ingen deadline
Myt #3: När man jobbar agilt behövs inga experter
Myt #2: När man jobbar agilt behövs inget ledarskap
Myt #1: När man jobbar agilt struntar man i att dokumentera

But in this post I am going to address a few of the common pitfalls to watch out for during your Agile transformation. This is a continuation to a post from a while back:

Three Common Mistakes in an Agile Transformation

I suggest starting with that one, as it covers the top three I have observed during my time as an Agile coach. But here are a few more common one's I have seen.

1) This is the way things work!

Agile is all about bringing issues to the surface so that they can be addressed, as long as we hide away or accept things as unchangeable things will remain exactly that unchanged. And Agile is all about change.

When we have worked in an organisation for a long period of time we accept certain things as true and stop trying to do something about them. Unfortunately, these things tend to be the issues that are giving us the most trouble in our daily work, or in Scrum terminology, our biggest impediments. Without the will and desire to challenge these "truths" we will always be held back in our progress, and the value brought by Agile will be hamstrung.

The most frequent symptom of this I see is what we call Scrum-But. 
"We are doing Scrum, but we don't do..."
"We are doing a special kind of Scrum we call 'insert your companies name here'-Scrum.

What is most often the case in these implementations, is that they have adapted Scrum to fit the dysfunction that exists in their organisation, and avoid addressing the issues that are "off limits".

Agile team pursue an ideal of evolutionary change, where we always try to tackle our biggest impediment and slowly reduce it to a level where it is no longer our biggest impediment. If you are unwilling to challenge the thing that is holding your team or organisation back the most, you are doing yourself and your organisation a disservice. 

2) Mandatory Scrum

This is something I generally see in what we call "top down" implementations of Agile. Where upper management has been sold on the idea of using Scrum throughout their organisation, and issue an "order" that all teams will start working Scrum.

One of the core principles of Scrum and Agile in general is empowerment of the teams, because they are the ones with the best knowledge of how work needs to be done. 

How can you expect a team to be empowered if they do not have any control over the most basic of questions? What process they use to do their jobs. 

Not only does this approach have a negative effect because it removes the teams power to control their own environment, but, it limit them because Scrum is not always the best option available depending on their particular context. 

This approach will most often be met with resistance from the teams who will only pay lip service to the transformation.

3) Too much work in progress (WIP)

This exists in virtually every company I have ever worked with. People simply have too many things to do at one time.

We as human beings have a natural tendency to focus when we are put under stress, which if you have only one task to accomplish can be positive. The problem is we generally have many things to focus on, and this narrow focus causes things to fall through the cracks, and the big picture to be missed.

Agile is always trying to strike a balance between today, and the future. When people have an insurmountable amount of work happening at one time, they will naturally only be able to focus on the here and now, which means they will be in a cycle which makes it so it will always be so.

Another downside of too much work in progress, is that it causes us to perform a lot of  task switching which carries with it a cost that most organisations are totally unaware of, but is almost always huge. In trying to do too many things at once, we are actually paying more for everything, and giving us less time to accomplish our goals.

Getting the tools to help:

The courses provided at Informator are provided by experienced Agile coaches, who deal with these problems from day to day. We are not simply academics who preach models that work only in theory, we spend the minority of our time (80% or more) working in teams who are learning and practising to be Agile.

We will teach you the tools to:
1) Have incremental impact on any impediment you are facing.
2) Show you a variety of "Agile Methods" and in which contexts they are useful.
3) Visualise your work in progress, so that it can be limited, to reduce stress and task switching.

And we will do it by showing and discrediting all those Agile myth's that are out there!

Find all agile courses here!

Jeff Campbell
twitter: Zebra_003

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