Agile Transformation: The Warning Signs of Failure…

“As a geek at heart, I present to you my list of anti-patterns regarding agile transformation.”

Behold the agile transformation wizard, here to save the day!

I present to you my list of wizardly anti-patterns regarding agile transformation…

I recently did an article about ‘why corporate companies suck at agile‘. Since writing that post, I have had a nagging urge to supplement the post with something more tangible and pragmatic.

As a geek at heart, I present to you my list of anti-patterns regarding agile transformation:

Not my gig – If only your tech teams are involved in the agile transformation, without the support of other functions, you may be setting yourself up for failure. Agile is a culture, not just a process or activity, and it needs to be embraced by the whole organization, including executives, to be effective.

Don’t worry, we’re experts – If your agile experts and trainers only focus on methodologies and processes, they’re not doing their job. Agile coaches and scrum masters should be experts in the intangible aspects of the role, such as cultivating a mindset and culture of agility. If they’re only parroting process and methodology, they’re not true experts.

Madame Secretary – If your scrum masters are acting as secretaries to their teams, rather than coaching and driving change, they’re not fulfilling their role. Scrum masters should be students of the human psyche, constantly experimenting to improve the psychological safety of their teams and tracking metrics of team happiness. If a developer knows more about agile development than your scrum masters, it’s a red flag.

Waterscrumfall – If your development teams are running agile, but other phases of the project are not, it’s a sure sign that your agile transformation is not being implemented consistently. This can lead to over-optimization of the development phase and incompatibility with other parts of the organization.

Agile theatre – If your organization is going through the motions of agile, but not actually embracing the culture and mindset, it’s a clear sign of failure. Agile transformation requires a real commitment to change, and if it’s not happening, it’s time to reassess your approach.

Unrealistic expectations – If you set unrealistic expectations for what your agile teams can accomplish, you’re setting them up for failure. Agile is about making small, incremental improvements, not achieving overnight success. Make sure your goals are realistic and achievable.

Lack of commitment – Agile transformation requires a genuine commitment from everyone involved. If some members of your organization are not fully on board, it will be difficult to achieve success. Make sure everyone is committed to the process and willing to work together.

Micromanagement – Agile teams need space to operate and experiment, but if they are being micromanaged, they will be unable to do their best work. Allow your teams the freedom to manage their own processes and make their own decisions.

Lack of transparency – Agile teams thrive on transparency and open communication, but if these values are not present in your organization, it will be difficult to achieve success. Make sure everyone is aware of what’s happening, and encourage open and honest communication.

Ignoring feedback – Agile is all about continuous improvement, and that requires listening to feedback from team members and stakeholders. If you’re not paying attention to feedback and using it to make changes, your agile transformation will not be effective.

Functional Culture – If you’re turning cultural concepts into functional roles or committees, you’re not embracing the true spirit of agile. DevOps is a great example of this. Rather than hiring dedicated DevOps personnel or creating committees, true agility comes from fostering a culture of collaboration and communication between development and operations.

Just because – Agile transformation should be driven by a clear and inspiring goal, not just because it’s the latest buzzword. If you’re not getting buy-in from your team, it may be because you haven’t communicated why the transformation is important and how it will benefit everyone involved. Make sure you have a compelling “why” to inspire your team and drive change.