7 Deadly Sins of Agile Adoption

Having recently worked on a large agile transformation with a team (I focused on the soft skills and cultural barriers to change – more on this soon!) here are some of the common things you need to consider before going agile!

Semi/pseudo agile practices or ‘phased adoption’

In order to control risk, some organisations attempt to adopt aspects of agile processes with the intention of adopting the remaining aspects later.  For example, projects might still be conducted with complete requirements signed off up front, with subsequent sprint-based development.

Failure to structure and train the product owner role and requirements elicitation resources adequately

Since the requirements gathering and backlog construction/grooming are crucial to the success of Scrum, this is one area in which agile is at serious risk of failure if not managed correctly.

Failure to train scrum masters or development team members adequately

The scrum master role is one of the agile expert and mentor in the early sprints of a team new to the agile practice.

External interference/over-ruling of the approach

For example, senior project management insisting work is dropped into sprint directly, bypassing the sprint planning process.

Team structure challenges

People are assigned to multiple projects simultaneously and jump from team to team based on which project they are working on at a particular time of the day.

Geographical and time zone challenges

Teams are sometimes structured so that the team itself is distributed across offices, national boundaries and time zones. Given the method relies heavily for its success on face to face communication with rapid feedback, geographical distribution is a serious challenge.

Benefits might not happen straight away

Contrary to belief, benefits might not arrive instantly and it’s important to manage expectations.  Leaders and execs need to be supportive and engaged but also be realistic about any outcome and what will come to fruition.