The dangers of Agile for your organization
It's not so easy as it seems...
Marty de Jonge
Nowadays you can read and hear everywhere that your organization has to switch to an Agile way of working and in particular by using the Scrum framework. The promised advantages are so huge that organizations are almost forced to switch to Agile in order to remain viable at all. And be honest, who doesn’t want things like:
- Higher productivity
- Shorter time-to-market
- Increased customer satisfaction
- Higher software quality
- Predictability in terms of lead time and costs
- Being able to cope better with changing requirements
And all with more job satisfaction for the employees.
You simply can’t ignore the success stories and the working methods are extensively described and available. You’d be crazy if you ignore these opportunities, right?
But be warned! It’s not all sunshine and lollipops. There are also several disadvantages to Agile and Scrum. In this article, you will find 3 of these important dangers to ask yourself if Agile is really something for your organization.
It’s not as easy as they make you believe.
Agile and Scrum may seem simple because the “rules of the game “ are simple. But appearances are deceptive. As a lot of organizations have experienced in the meantime, it is quite a challenge to properly apply the agile principles and the Scrum framework.
Scrum: “Simple to understand yet difficult to master”
Working in an Agile environment really requires a considerable amount of learning time.
That is not so much because you have to learn a new method with new techniques. That is the easiest part. Hire a good trainer who will help your organization to understand and organize the events stated in the Scrum Guide. Make sure everybody is told that this will be the “New way of working”, organize a kick-off and in a few months you are scrumming ahead.
The difficult part is that you have to unlearn a lot. In particular because Agile requires a different mindset than in traditional organizations. Many things that used to be taken for granted no longer apply. For example, issues such as multi-year schedules, project roadmaps, SMART requirements and extensive documentation are much less important in Agile.
Learning how to still manage your organization can take years and will probably never be finished. This change is constant and continuously changing/improving can be very hard and tiresome. The transition to Scrum and Agile isn’t delivered on a planned release date, it is ever ongoing.
It requires a lot of time and commitment from everyone.
How wonderfully simple and well-organized we have arranged the organization! The marketers work together on the best new services and products, they write a plan, give it to the developers in the basement, who build a piece of software together and the sales department ensures that it is eventually sold.
Everyone knows what his role is and does this with his immediate colleagues who all studied for the same kind of occupation.
For a successful agile project, an intensive collaboration between business and development is required. There must be daily contact between the business and the development team in order to coordinate, spar and adjust. The business has a crucial role and is responsible for product value. They must make decisions, prioritize and provide feedback to the development team.
As a marketer or account manager, you really have to work together day in day out and coordinate with those IT people about every piece of functionality that they provide.
You have to be present at sprint plannings, participate in all reviews. Not just write a product plan with specifications, but in refinement sessions explaining face to face exactly what you expect, why and what business value this will deliver.
Do you know how much time this all takes? When is there still time to actually work?
A complete organizational change is needed
To fully exploit the benefits of agile, it is not enough to work agile only within the IT projects. The entire organization from C-level management to marketing, product development and IT must participate in this Agile thinking and working methods. It is really a culture change and not a new software development method that you can introduce. Introducing Scrum and organizing the events is not enough. You’ll probably have to throw most of what you have to learn out of the window.
Typical agile conditions such as self-managing teams (no project leader), fully committed (employees not in multiple teams), team responsibility (no individual assessments/bonuses), transparency (no separate management reports), carefully constructed certainties and clarifications (changing the function of profiles and management positions) need to be in place to redesign your organization.
Is all this going way too far for you?
Then it may be clear to you by now that this whole Agile and Scrum approach is not suited for your organization. In that case, you can better continue to do what you always did.
This could be an excellent choice! As long as the outcome of that current way of working is also what you want to achieve for your organization….
If not, then brace yourself, say goodbye to most of what is dear to you and jump right in!
Marty de Jonge
As an agnostic change agent, I am constantly amazed at what happens in organizations and learn every day. Enthusiastic writer and always open for discussion.