My first experience with agile was pretty messed up. We were told the department would be doing "Scrum" in the mist of various other organizational changes and a series of layoffs. This was a trying time for me and my teams as it was difficult to focus on the project at hand with all the white noise around us. Despite it all the teams produced to the best of their abilities. Here is one of the challenges I experienced, in further posts I will continue to discuss our challenges. Our first challenge: Getting our Director not just to speak the same language! Like it wasn't enough to be going through layoff's our department head new where he wanted the department to be and understood the need to baseline where we were to monitor our progress. So along with scrum we were to do earned value management. Now if you know anything about EVM you know it works very well with the waterfall approach. Not that it would not work with scrum but it was completely contrary to agile principles. Quite honestly at the time I was too busy to absorb this.
While not exactly this challenge, I see many teams experience requests contrary to agile principles. I think the problem lies in Managements' lack of understanding of what it takes to make a transition.
As a solution I encourage my students to take this as an opportunity to educate their managers. Discuss what was learned in class and what you find contradictory. Now I am not saying your manager will stop making requests that are against agile principles and practices but it will make them understand what they are doing will negatively influence a team. Keep in mind managers are people too and if you have a good rapport with them this discussion will be found helpful or a minimum it will serve to understand the need behind those requests. If you don't have a good relationship with your boss, the need for this conversation is that much more important. Find a way to explain what you learned without challenging your boss. One way is to summarize the training and share with your peers, teams and anyone interested in the course.
Taking this approach will make you look great and still be sending a message. If this approach fails it is time for a candid conversation. For this approach be ready with facts! How is the team being affected? What exactly is inconsistent with agile practices (example of this is a command and control environment that is not letting the team grow). Try not to make this personal and start with the needs of the organization as you understand it. At minimum you and the manager will discover solutions to bridge the gap.
So this was part one of the first post. Please join me and share your first or ongoing agile transition.
“It is not a bolt to be tightened into place but a seed to be planted and to bear more seed toward the hope of greening the landscape of idea.”
About our guest writer
I am an Agile coach with a passion to help teams to collaborate, strategize, cooperate and to deliver solutions that are in direct support of strategic initiatives. An agile transition is all about people and interactions and that is my concentration. I apply gamification, and proven techniques to motivate teams. Through these techniques I support teams to drive specific behaviors that contribute towards more effective, productive and harmonious working relationships regardless of the methodology or framework used.
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