Agile, Basic Scrum, Scrum

Five things nobody tells you before you start with agile

You are thinking about transforming your world of work and start using agile frameworks. But there may be a few thinks, nobody told you about agile before. Now is the time:

Agile won’t solve your problems

Some people believe, that agile processes are some kind of silver bullet (mostly the same people, that believed the same about CMMI, RUP or the V-Model). But agile processes like e.g. Scrum are nothing more than your nasty mother in law. They make all the problems and impediments transparent, but you have to solve them on your own. Yes, they’ll support you to start experiments and by reducing the risks by using short inspect & adapt cycles, but the hard work is up to you.

Only by following the process, agile offers no benefits

I saw teams, that did Scrum exactly by the book. They had daily stand-ups, sprint planning meetings, sprint reviews, retrospectives and some even had backlog refinement meetings. But they only had minor advantages in doing so. But why? Agile is not about doing but about being. It is a mindset change and not exclusively a process change. Only if you embrace things like the twelve principles behind the Agile manifesto, Lean thinking or the PASSION model, Scrum will unfold its full potential.

There is no “agile switch.”

No, it is not enough to send all you employees on a two-day Scrum Master certification training, and you’re done. There is no such thing, like an “agile button” you can just push and it will work like magic. When you look at descriptions of the Scrum process, it seems like an easy thing, but the exact opposite is the case. You have to learn things like increasing the number of things not done (sounds crazy, right?), delivering production ready products every iteration (which is really hard especially, if you used to have platform or component teams), tackle tough organizational issues (which is one of the major impediments for successful agile transitions) and more. Yes, you can “switch” to agile, but it will take months or even years to get there.

Transforming to Agile means transforming your organization

Still, most of the agile transformation initiatives start in product development. But if the rest of your organization ignores this initiative, it is like planting a flower in the desert; it will slowly die. There is no way to transform to agile without transforming the whole organization. If you are not ready for that, you are not ready for agile.

Agile is NOT faster
Even if the term “Sprint” implies, that agile is fast, the contrary is the case; at least at first sight. If you want to have production ready releases at the end of every iteration (which includes development, testing, integration and yes, even documentation), you are not able to deliver more in the same amount of time. What is true is, that agile will help you to decrease your TTM (Time To Market). Sounds like a contradiction, right? This is true for various reasons:

  • Agile is about simplicity and increasing the number of things NOT done. This means you focus on what the customer really needs instead of building a cluttered product nobody can use with features nobody needs. This, of course, leads to fewer things in your backlog and ultimately to a better TTM.
  • As agile builds in quality right from the beginning (you remember: a tested and integrated release at the end of EVERY iteration), there won’t be everlasting bug fixing phases at the end of your project. Also, the time you need for maintenance will decrease tremendously.
  • At the core of agile, there is a continuous improvement process. This means that the way you work is improving throughout your project. Better process = better TTM.

Now you know 😉 If I forgot something, feel free to leave a comment.