12 Agile Adoption Failure Modes by Jean Tabaka

fail sign from failblog.org

another #signfail #epicfail by Brad P.

Last night at the BayAPLN, Jean Tabaka from Rally Software gave a presentation about the typical failure modes of Agile. This is distilled from her observations and being asked from people who have heard the hype, what are the real problems with adopting an Agile approach?

Which is your current favorite?

  1. Checkbook commitment doesn’t support organizational change management. CEOs create within the company their own personal family dysfunction.
  2. Culture doesn’t support change. Reward plan, and a static and prescriptive standard of work. Try to keep cross-organizational uniformity and use PMO as enforcers.
  3. Do not have retrospectives, or they are bad. Actions which come out get ignored or written off.
  4. In a race to finish features, the infrastructure gets worse and architecture becomes unstable. Distributed teams make this worse.
  5. Lack of collaboration in planning. Like having the whole team for release planning.
  6. None or too many Product Owners. Both cases look the same. Agile is yet another hat to wear and the person is already too busy. They check out and ask the team to just do Agile. Can’t get past the ‘this sucks’ phase of adoption if the business is not bought in.
  7. Bad Scrum Master which uses a command and control style with the team to look faster, yet in reality slows things down. Low morale lowers IQ. Take decisions away and it actually makes people stupider!
  8. No on-site evangelist. If the teams are distributed, need one at every site. Can’t reap the benefits of Agile or offshore without an on-site coach at each location.
  9. No solid team. Actually missed this one, inferred. Empowered teams amplify learning.
  10. Tsunami of technical debt if don’t pull tests forward.
  11. Traditional performance appraisals. Individual heroics rewarded, glad you’re not a team player!
  12. Revert to traditional. Change is hard. Hit the threshold where this sucks. Revert back to old ways of doing business.

Jean then challenged the group to choose the one issue they would like to see changed at their work and come up with an action plan right now to change it. In a month, retrospect on how well it went. Perhaps that would be an interesting open space subject in a couple of meetings for the BayAPLN?

It isn’t all bad. In writing this blog, I found that Rally has also started posting the top 10 characteristics of an Agile organization.

Update: Adding the video from Agile Australia mentioned by Mike Alber.

Day 1 – 9.45am – Jean Tabaka from Zoltan Deak on Vimeo.

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