Agile Adoption – Just Say No

Mishkin Berteig has posted an interesting article regarding what he considers the best agile practices to implement now, that is those that deliver the highest return on investment. After the recent reshuffle here I’ve had the opportunity to start to work more closely with a couple of our development teams which has been great.

I agree with all of the points that Mishkin makes, I would in fact add one to them, I think teams should be running Retrospectives from the outset, one of the fundamental principles certainly in Scrum terms is to Inspect and Adapt and it’s not until a team starts to learn to understand its’ own performance and has the desire to improve itself will they realise any value in what they’re doing. Retrospectives give teams an opportunity to reflect over their last iteration / sprint and indeed over the entire time that they have been working towards delivering the software, it allows them to see the improvements that they’ve made as well as the areas that still need some work.

As I get to spend more time watching and helping teams adopt agile practices though, I’m starting to distil further my own opinions on how to approach a so called adoption, I think this largely boils down to 3 things:

1. Understand Why

It’s a concern that so often I hear people talking about that fact that we’re doing this one agile or see people doing a sit down stand up (the clue’s in the title folks) just because they think they should be. Before you get started take a look at what you’re already doing; what is it that you think you could be doing better, understand why you think you need to change, you could perhaps even consider running a retrospective to gather some information first.

2. Be able to clearly state your vision for any change

If you’re going to make a change, I think you should be able to clearly state not only the reason why but the vision you have for how the change will be effected and most importantly where you’re aiming for. In that, I also think you should need to be able to measure how effective the change you’re making is. Discuss the principles that are aligned with your vision, I think the Lean Software Development principles are a pretty good starting point for a discussion round this.

3. Don’t use the word agile

This is a bit of a difficult one. If you’re going to change what you’re doing and even have any inclination to want to use agile techniques, don’t call it agile. Why? Well, for a couple of reasons; Firstly there are those people that you’ll come across that are naturally resistant to it and it’s better not to expose yourself to that pain in the first place and secondly, I don’t think that to be agile should be the end goal. Sure business agility will deliver a lot of benefit to your organisation which they’ll thank you for but agile isn’t necessarily the only way to achieve that. By constantly reviewing what you’re doing and aspiring to do it better at all times you’ll deliver huge value, Dr Deming’s plan-do-check-act cycle (on which agile is loosely based) should help you there as a framework by which to carry that out.

I’d be interested to hear what you all think, have I missed the point or am I along the right lines?

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8 thoughts on “Agile Adoption – Just Say No

  1. Dan,

    I agree with you that Retrospectives are critical. However, they don’t tend to give immediate high-value results unless _really_ well facilitated. I excluded them from my article (http://www.agileadvice.com/2008/05/12/referenceinformation/the-best-agile-practices-to-implement-now-highest-return-on-investment/) because I felt that the other three are immediate, high impact whereas retrospectives are long-term (and high impact too).

    Thanks!

  2. danrough says:

    I see your point Mishkin, to explain myself, it was your closing paragraph, The Benefits Of All Three Practices that prompted me to comment. You state that if a team and their respective organisation were to adopt these practices they could easily double their productivity with which I agree, I think though that if they are to do those they need to combining that with Retrospectives, I accept that they might not have the immediate impact you talk of but in my opinion they are critical to realising that impact.

  3. […] mind wanders… « Let The Inmates Run The Asylum Agile Adoption – Just Say No » Agile: Like Fingernails On A Chalkboard 20 March, 2008 This is a post that […]

  4. […] mind wanders… « Agile Adoption – Just Say No Agile: Like Fingernails On A Chalkboard 16 May, 2008 This is a post that I’ve had […]

  5. danrough says:

    Thanks Mike, good to know that some find these ramblings useful.

  6. Paulo Köch says:

    Well, for a couple of reasons, firstly there are those people that you’ll come across that are naturally resistant to it and it’s better not to expose yourself to that pain in the first place and secondly, I don’t think that to be agile should be the end goal, sure business agility will deliver a lot of benefit to your organisation which they’ll thank you for but agile isn’t necessarily the only way to achieve that, by constantly reviewing what you’re doing and aspiring to do it better at all times you’ll deliver huge value, Dr Deming’s plan-do-check-act cycle (on which agile is loosely based) should help you there as a framework by which to carry that out.

    Biggest sentence ever. Literally, there’s only one period.

  7. […] On, Wax Off 27 October, 2008 I know I’ve said before that I don’t believe in an Agile Adoption initiative but humour me a little […]

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