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  • Writer's pictureV. Lee Henson CST

Has Agile Turned into a Dating App?

I know that right about now you are asking yourself has V. Lee Henson lost his ever-loving mind? Please allow me to explain what I have observed that brought me to write this article.

Many organizations are starting to treat their Agile implementation like a fast food menu or better yet a dating app. When kicking off Agile, they often seek alignment throughout the company on what techniques should be used and how each should be applied to make their business agility application perfect. They will often put together what they feel is a comprehensive list consisting of: Scrum, Lean, XP, SAFe, Kanban, Stable, DSDM, Disciplined Agile, Waterfall, etc. Next they punch down into the practices for each one and use a swipe left or right approach to what they should or should not apply, treating each idea, concept, or process as 100% optional and only selecting the best parts for their company. The excuse they like to use is “But Lee, we are different” or even better “We have no desire to really change what we are currently doing, we just hired AgileDad to help Agilify it. Can you make it more Scrummy for us?” At first I thought this was a joke until I realized that it was not.

I needed to do something to better understand how and why these companies were behaving this way and what I could do to help them somewhat get on the same page and progress. I found a couple of items that created what I call the common thread. Every product or project I have ever worked on goes through four distinct cycles:

  1. Ideation or Brainstorming

  2. Discovery or Prototype (Think MVP)

  3. Build or Implementation

  4. Release To internal or External Recipient

This actually helped a ton! I figured out that the struggle was figuring out which groups needed to actively participate in each area and which techniques made the most sense in each area. I quickly discovered that while the companies and the products or services they provide were indeed different, the flow to build the product or service NEVER changed!

I knew this meant the next step was to identify the Non-Negotiables in order for these organizations to have solid footings for their Agile Center of Excellence to launch and eventually thrive:

  1. ALWAYS begin with a clear vision & strategy for what you are building. The vision provides the what and the strategy provides the how. Without both, your implementation will most certainly be hindered.

  2. Separate the people from the work and align the people into teams that make sense based on the size of the organization and the type of products and services you build.

  3. Focus on true Product Ownership and align the work in such a way that is is easily consumable in iterative cycles. Stop forming new working groups and allow well formed teams to SWARM and complete the work.

  4. Limit the amount of Work In Progress at the organization, team, and individual level. Learn about Little’s Law and stop starting new work so you can focus on finishing the work you have started.

  5. Discover how to measure progress and success at the team and organization level. Learn to focus on outcome over output, and seek help when the time arises from a qualified Agile Coach.

These five items are NOT optional and should be considered mandatory by every organization. True business agility begins with some very practical sound steps and continues to thrive as you seek the correct training & coaching to help your company truly coordinate and embrace Agile.


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