Did Agile Make You Lost?
I am not an expert in Agile. Nor I am a Scrum master or Agile coach. But ‘Agile’ is one of the keywords in my profession. Buzzword, if I may be more specific. I believe a lot of you are familiar with this keyword too, if not already practicing and becoming experts yourselves. But somehow, some of us are probably lost. Lost in a way that, we have put all the efforts and energy that we have, but yet the result is not showing any positive impact to our work, projects, or operations. Maybe it becomes even worse than before. We may have done Scrum, Kanban, spending money to hire Scrum masters, spending time to be in sprint planning meetings, daily standup meetings, sprint review and retrospective meetings, but it turned out that there is no difference in the progress, sometimes even worse.
What is wrong?
Before we blame Agile, before we fire the Scrum masters we hired, before we stop doing all the Sprint related meetings, probably we should ask ourselves if we are being Agile or only doing Agile. Being Agile is not the same as doing Agile. This is also another super popular phrase nowadays. What we are doing by pushing Scrum as methodology, by planning the sprint, reviewing it, retrospect on it, and generate reports, are just part of doing Agile. It is fairly not too difficult to do because it is just a practice. But we thought that by doing that, our project will become Agile and will have different results from the old methodologies we did before.
Agile is a mindset.
I am working as a specialist in Information Services, related with cloud platforms and applications, as well as DevOps practices. My experiences and exposures about Agile are more or less limited with my job scope. Nevertheless the principal will always be the same. The point-of-view of Agile should be wider than only pursuing the scores, the practices, the methodologies. It could be varied depending on the situation and environment we are in.
For instance, to create an Agile project it would requires more than only a scrum master, sprints, and project management. It will require a bird’s eye view of the whole landscape of Information System itself. It will require BIG COLLABORATION (I put this in caps because this is super important) between all the players across the landscape. For example, you have a project to deliver a cloud application. Yes, you can choose an agile development team to do the job, you can have a Scrum master work together with them, you can have an Agile template for project management, but unless you collaborate with all the related parties across the IS landscape, big challenges are waiting for you, soon. You may face something like: roadmap clash between your app’s versus the big roadmap of IS, less or even no support on the technology used by your app, less user adoption, which will lead to early decommissioning of your app, and in the end it means wasting resources and time.
So yes, Agile is a mindset.
And it is not only for the project team. It is a mindset that has to be put from top to bottom, from the start to the finish line. COLLABORATION is the key. Then the next question will arise: How we can have the visibility among different teams and players across the landscape? Considering today some of us (or many of us) are still working in silo? In this case, if we already have the mindset, the next action is to find some tools to help us doing so. I am not here to recommend some tools, but we have plenty of tools that are purposed to help a team going through their Agile journey. My suggestion would be, if you have a big landscape with many players across, use a tool that provides you a bird’s eye view, to see the progress, to see the plans, to follow up with each other, and allowing each players/teams to deep dive into each topics in detail. Another important function in this case is reporting. So a tool with a good reporting function to satisfy the needs from top management until the project team can be a good option. If your landscape is narrow, not a lot of players in between, then you can be more flexible to choose a tool that might help you. The most important thing in this case is the team dynamic, so choose a tool that is more interactive and collaborative, even though probably lack of some reporting and bird’s eye view.
Being Agile is being flexible (with no compromise on the result). We can be flexible to adapt to the context and the needs, but the only thing we cannot be flexible about is the result, the outcome. Remember, we are adopting Agile mindset to improve our outcome, not to mess with it.
This is a sharing from the point-of-view a non-expert in Agile. So please, I am very open for discussion. Let’s learn so that we won’t be lost in our Agile journey, ever again. Enjoy your journey!