An Overlooked Barrier to Agile Adoption
Agile adoption isn’t easy. It isn’t an overnight transition, either. It can often be a long, difficult, uphill climb. The good news is that the climb can bring you to the top of your game and even give you a look down on the competition.
The commonly cited barriers to agile adoption are that people are just generally resistant to change, the organizational culture doesn’t support agile thinking, the projects are too complex and the budget can’t afford it, and the team doesn’t have the right people or framework in place to make agile a viable option sooner rather than later.
But there is one barrier to successful agile adoption that can often get overlooked. Despite the first tenant of the Agile Manifesto being “individuals and interactions over processes and tools,” some teams still fall into the trap of being too focused on agile process. This statement can seem confusing and counterintuitive, but as Steve Adolph points out in his presentation at Agile Development Conference East 2014, “… agile conversations often seem to degenerate to arguments over specific practices and which practice is and which practice is not agile.”
Adolph points to an important truth: Teams can lose their ability to be agile and ironically fail the fourth tenant of the Agile Manifesto (“responding to change over following a plan”) by trying too hard to follow the agile plan rather than adapting to what processes work.
“Your goal should never be to 'be agile.' It should be focused on delivering and realizing business value sooner."
Well, how can I be agile if my focus shouldn’t be trying to focus on being agile? Pretty confusing, right? Luckily, Foy has an answer.
“If you are new to the agile world, don't get caught up in trying to implement a specific method. Instead, learn about many things—agile, lean, and even waterfall—and think about the cases for each. You'll end up with a better adoption.”
Foy might be right. Maybe the best path to adoption is to relax and focus on what works for you and your team. Don’t try to be agile, just try to be good at what you do. If you focus on just creating value and doing well, you might find that you’ve reached a successful agile adoption after all.