6 reasons NOT to start an Agile Transformation


Christoph Mathis , Sun, 08.09.2013 - 12:56

In the last years I have seen my share of problematic Scrum and Agile implementations. Some of them hit unforseeable impediments, but many problems are also foreseeable. Often it starts with wrong goals and assumptions. I present some of them. If you know of other patterns, I would be glad to add them to my little collection.

1. Culture, trust

I do not trust my people to be motivated and competent enough - I want to monitor and evaluate in detail the way they work.

Without developing a culture of trust, your agile efforts will fail. 

With an agile transformation, you send a message to your teams that you want their commitment, initiative and creativity. You want them to trust their colleagues and to share their knowledge and experience.

If you send simultaneously the opposite message that you want to control them, these messages will be in conflict and you have created a huge impediment not only for an agile transformation, but for your organization as a whole.

2. Mass production

In my organization, we do only routine jobs and mass production

Look in the Lean Thinking area for a solution. You will find a tremendous amount of knowledge which can help you solving your problems.

Agile draws its basic ideas from Lean Thinking. Both are „people systems“ and both focus heavily on continuous improvement and learning. But: Agile has been adopted specifically to innovative and creative work like software development, and solves some problems differently from Lean.

3. Command and control

Command and control: I do not want a team which organizes their work and improvement

OK, you are not in danger to start with agile.

4. I do not want to invest into my people

Good luck.

This can be illustrated with the following episode:

CFO and CTO are talking about their staff.

CFO: imagine, if we educate them and they leave

CTO: imagine, if we do not educate them and they stay.

5. Good Enough

Our current practices are good enough, we do not need continuous improvement.

Congratulations. If your market changes, if new competitors appear, if your monopoly starts to falter, check again.

Make sure you spot the change in time and have still people on noard who are willing to contribute.

6. The other guys on my golf course

The other guys on my golf course do it.

Agile is too much effort to start seriously out of vanity. Let them fail and wait for a better reason.