Mistake Museum

October 29, 20082 min


Here are some common mistakes people make when trying to make their organization more Agile from Rick Brenner and Nancy Van Schooenderwoert.  My comments are in italics.384-art-museum-ext-best-thumbnail

  • Underestimate the politics of the organization.  Avoid this trap at your peril.  As Ken Schwaber likes to say, “A dead sheepdog is no use to the team.”
  • Use an Agile process to run the Agile transition.  Use tried and true change management techniques from the project management world.
  • Allow the internal auditors to credential the Agile process.  Frequently internal auditors do not know what they are dealing with when confronted with an Agile project.  My experience is they often gum up the works to make their lives easier.  While these people are normally trouble, learn what they need.
  • Scale up rapidly after a few successful pilot projects.  I call this early institutionalization or freezing the transformation process in an immature state.  You would never eat a green strawberry, so why push an immature system to your entire company?  Learn why the pilots are successful and amplify those factors while diminishing the obstacles.
  • The early pilot projects are not run like projects; there are no goals, budget or customers.
  • The “wrong” project was selected for the Agile team; i.e. legacy systems, unavailable customers, ill-defined goals, etc.  Agile teams need to work iteratively in close collaboration with a customer who cares about the project and has the authority to make decisions.  Anything less causes “issues”.
  • Select team members who are actively hostile to Agile. Agile relies on the goodwill of the participants to try new things in order to succeed.Skepticism is good, but too much makes the whole thing a farce.
  • Treat people as interchangeable resources and swap in-and-out at will. Agile asks people to make commitments by encouraging them to take ownership of products.  How much ownership do you really have when you are on four different teams?