“Fake” Agile [Transformation]

I wish I had more time to reflect and be succinct but a tag request in LinkedIn requires speed. My initial thoughts…

First and foremost, I love that the author addresses the complexity and difficulty of any type of transformation. It’s difficult for people to imagine the total amount of work and time required to successfully transform once. Imagine getting not one person, but an entire neighborhood to shift from an unhealthy lifestyle (obese, sedentary, etc.) to a healthy one (diet, exercise, etc.). It can be done, but it’s gonna take a lot of effort: a lot of people believing it’s the right thing to do, a significant amount of repetition, addressing people falling off the bandwagon, and disparities between individuals. 

Secondly, I think “fake” is a great term. There are multiple levels of cultural adoption regarding transformational success. Assuming that leader ship is not going to back away from the transformation as a priority, Phase 1 usually involves managers and leaders using the vernacular. People learn what to say and start throwing out terms that help them get their way. For example, those that want to include the customer will say “well, the user story said this.” People will talk about combing the backlog and running another sprint. Just because they know the words doesn’t mean they’re doing it right. The second part of successful transformations or when pockets begin to actually adapt to the new approach. However, there is little experience and they are unable to successfully navigate difficult questions or challenges received from their peers. during this fragile time, they can be easy to give up or regress to the previous method. People may the letter of the law but they don’t necessarily understand the spirit and so it can be misapplied. Because of this, people can get turned off and outright reject Agile. 

Stage 3, it’s no or go. It becomes widespread or disappears. Longevity is culturally based. It’s rejected or lasts multiple leaders. Agile benefits are codified and measured regularly. It’s not an initiative. 

Lastly, a lot of people from the agile world think that the methodology can be directly applied to non-software solutions. That would be the equivalent of setting up a lactose intolerant person on a diet that includes dairy products. There are a significant number of agile principles that do work in non-software situations, but there are others that will plainly just get you into trouble. Any industry that requires re-training of people or retooling of hardware after each release cannot run on highly repetitive sprints. 

All of this goes to say walk the talk. Don’t act Agile when you clearly are snacking on Twinkies every chance you can. Your product release schedule reflects reality. You can either stay ahead of the industry or you’re playing catch up. Sounds like the conference is gonna be great. 

(Now I’ve been listening to R&B circa 1989 for the past hour so “peace out!”)

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