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How dogmatic should you be in adopting Agile as a methodology?

How dogmatic should you be in adopting Agile as a methodology?

Megon Thomson Friday, 15 April 2016

How do you manage to align your processes and people with your brand promise? Companies are aware of the holistic nature of their organisation but rarely have the toolset to implement strategies on ground level to support the broader mission. The processes we implement to support delivery of the company’s brand promise can either hamper success or lift them well beyond their competitors.

Process cannot exist in a vacuum, on paper or the minds of upper management. A well-defined process can only succeed if the people in the process know what is expected, have the tools to deliver the desired outcomes set by the organisation, and upper management respects this process.

I have been involved in numerous implementations of the Agile Framework. I have experienced the downfalls of a poorly implemented methodology, and the negative impact this has on team morale and on the perception upper management has regarding the team’s performance and attitude.

There are multitudes of opinions on how to implement and adopt Agile in your development organisation. And there are many truths within all the various opinions out there in the industry. I have found that a crucial influencer on the success or failure of process has been the culture of the organisation attempting to adopt Agile. Communication channels are not always clearly defined and adhered to, decision makers do not always understand the framework and expectations are not always aligned with actual process. Agile is much the same as continuous integration. Continuous integration of strategy, people, processes and systems.

Pragmatic Agile approaches these challenges by being just that, pragmatic. Standardising an organisation on the same exact approach is no mean feat, but not impossible if you do it inch by inch and then rollout to the greater organisation. A structure where people know what is expected, can see what they deliver, know how to deliver it and have the tools to support them.  Celebrating the successes and sharing in the failures. Where individuals can develop their skills and grow within a team and receive well-deserved recognition.

To achieve success, is to adhere to a process that is a good culture fit; it increases delivery, accountability and transparency. Standups, planning meetings, retrospectives, review meetings and code reviews go a long way to create the space for this and pave the way for teams to successfully execute the process.

In addition, support from a Product Owner or Scrum Master who is passionate about the process and who helps the team to succeed, is a definite must. Without this, the process is likely to be set aside due to urgent work communicated by management, or other items perceived to be more important and the benefits cannot be seen. Without a gatekeeper or sentry to champion your process and at times to say, “We can’t squeeze that in for this sprint but we can look at it in the next two sprints”, your Agile approach will never be successful. Chaos will always be the order of the day.

The process should evolve as the team evolves. Constantly tweaking the process within the framework to find the best approach.  One that works for the business and the people. It grows with the team. They provide invaluable feedback on what works and what is hampering delivery. Within this structure you can manage the client’s expectations as well as the expectations of business.

No one approach is a perfect fit for all. Processes should continuously be evaluated, tested and improved to find the right balance between the people, the business and the requirements of the clients.