So when my friend mentioned that a good indicator for agile transformation success was a company had hit rock bottom I knew exactly what he was referring to. In this particular case he used the examples of the FBI Sentinel Project and Healthcare.gov website debacle. In both cases, it wasn’t until each was a total disaster that Agile was actually tried with any seriousness and rigor and in both cases the results were amazing.
This particular problem manifests when a company desires the potential benefits of Scrum without really understanding Scrum. Without a good understanding, people attempt to map their existing roles with those of Scrum. Let me make one thing perfectly clear. The role of Scrum Master is unique to Scrum and any attempt to map it to existing roles will only result in confusion, frustration and less than optimal outcomes.
One of the things I have noticed during this time is, as Agile (and especially Scrum) have become more mainstream, the quality of individuals calling themselves scrum masters and agile coaches has become more variable.
When someone mentions “waterfall has always worked for us”, I believe this is an example of Type Three error. The real question – has waterfall been optimal? The example I always give is that the covered wagon was successful for transportation, but when I look out the window of a plane, I don’t see any crossing the prairie. In the case of those applying the values and principles of agile properly there is little doubt as to which is the airplane and which is the covered wagon.
As an agile coach and change agent I am always asked how maturity can be measured at the team and organizational level. What I have found over the years is that there is no lack of different checklists that can be used to give us these “metrics”. In fact, a recent Google search gave me a page that contains links to literally 41 checklists. In addition to these I have personally worked on many different custom checklists myself as if the 41 currently available do not adequately address the needs of teams transitioning to agile! Why is it that these already existing measures are not enough?
Once upon a time I coached one of the most amazing agile scrum teams. They were able to deliver things that their management found quite unbelievable so much so that they conveyed a meeting to find answers to why this particular group of people were able to so greatly outperform others in the organization. As an aside I was not originally invited to the meeting but the team lobbies for me to be there as they considered me one of the team and, as a team member, partially responsible for their success.
As an agile coach that has been fortunate to work at a good number of clients over the years, you … More The Theory of Change & Why I Get In Trouble →
The impetus for the gang of four was the desire of four agilists (coaches) to try to do the right things with regards to implementing agile and scrum – to do things that were generally acknowledged as good agile practices but things that were not necessarily politically palatable. In other words, we were something of a clandestine organization.
As a consultant I try my best to keep abreast of industry trends in technology and software development. Often one … More How I Know You Are Flailing at Agile →
A few months back I stumbled onto some research done by Gallup on employee engagement quoted from above. I would like to say that their findings were shocking, but having been an Agile Coach at many large organizations, I find the statistics (and conclusions based on the statistics) to track quite close to my own experiences.
For example, Gallup found that only 30% of all employees in the United States are “engaged and inspired at work” and about 20% are what have been defined as “actively disengaged” employees who “aren’t just unhappy at work; they’re busy acting out their unhappiness. Every day, these workers undermine what their engaged coworkers accomplish.” The remaining 1 out 2 workers are defined as “not engaged” and “essentially ‘checked out.’ They’re sleepwalking through their workday, putting time — but not energy or passion — into their work.”