Sunday, November 15, 2015

Rough notes: Misunderstood agile practices

Let us assume management and team have some experience with agile but they only understand parts of it (such as iterative delivery, sprint ceremonies etc.). Have you faced such situations? Which practice(s) and concept(s) did you strive to adopt but were challenged? what tools did you use for influencing the outcomes?

Here are some highlights from a LinkedIn discussion I started about misunderstood agile practices.

* In many "traditional" companies agile is seen as a new set of controls to get work done. Old roles are re-labeled.

* Many companies think that they can purchase agile as product also if they have few certified SM/PO on pay roll, company is agile.

* Misconception: Equating testing with quality improvement. Quality needs to be designed in from the get go.

* Try this: Making metrics visible. Nobody can argue with truths, and the truth is a strong motivator of change in group dynamics.

* Conducting honest retrospectives over many sprints is often neglected.

* The biggest mistake that people make is thinking that Agile is a process, and if you do the process, you'll be successful.

* Agile practices could be perfectly implemented but with inappropriate mindset and intention, then practices perfectly implemented in physical and visible shapes will all always be misunderstood.

* Misunderstanding Being Agile vs. Doing Agile: Most people don’t understand the difference between Being and Doing. Agile isn’t something you do. It’s something you are.

* Misunderstanding the proper amount of documentation needed. Reading "Working software over Documentation and Processes" and forgetting the final line of the manifesto, "Although we value the things on the right, we value the things on the left more".

* The problem is with the mindset. A mindset change is more difficult of a change and involves coaching/training/teaching and importantly discussions around what Agile is to the team/department/company.

* Many chickens do not understand the "doing" vs "being" agile.

* Misunderstanding: Many organizations associate agile with "I am using Jira / Rally / TFS /(any other tool you can think of) and still not able to get the benefits of agile. Looks like agile doesn't work for us"!!!!

* Transparency does not mean micromanagement.

* Misunderstanding: Dysfunctional Waterfall is the same as Successful Waterfall.

* Misunderstanding: If I cut my big traditional programme of x years without any reliable progress indicator into small iterations, that I can reasonable expect precise forecasts / commitments and then still get all the benefits of agile.

* Misunderstanding: Agile methodology is not suitable for products which take multiple years to build.

* Misconception: "Agile is for those who are not disciplined enough for processes", i.e. "You can improve Agile by introducing more rigid processes."

* Try this: Look at your dev / test / staging infrastructure and automation around that. And your engineering skills and practices.

* Misunderstanding: Scrum ceremonies often misunderstood and poorly done, but yes Daily Standup especially. As it returns every day.

* Misunderstanding: "We create user stories ñ try to complete them in two weeks" so we follow agile ...

* Misunderstandings: Originally, there are things like "I can't break down my work that small." Or "our testers are used to being at the end, we can't include them in our current sprints." And the misconceptions just move on down the line as you transform the teams.

* Quote: Wisdom begins when we discover the difference between "That makes no sense" and "I don't understand". --Mary Doria Russell

* My favorite takeaway: It is far better to move ahead with a wealth of misconceptions and the personal and organizational intent to continuously improve than to try and identify and correct the misconceptions first.

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