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Polina Eliana
Polina Eliana

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Agile has fallen. Or has it ?

In today's fast moving world it is not news to hear of companies adapting new ways of working and shedding old ones. Many are running after the trend only to find themselves stuck in a vicious cycle where money and resources have been spent and now it's too late to get out. So it is to no surprise that so many leaders are raising their voices on the side effects of agile. Here I wanted to share some of my observations from both experience and reading online content on this topic. To start I truly empathise with the trauma endured by those in the tech world who have been forced into the maze of scrum or whatever other framework under the umbrella of agile. As an agile practitioner I cannot negate these horror stories, so before I continue with my 2 cents I wanted to make it clear that I totally understand why people are standing up to express their feelings of frustration and disillusionment.

The question is this, has agile fallen ? I would say yes and no.

Now let's look at the real life example of an average corporate that has adapted this fancy new way of working and is rapidly trying to convert their entire company into an agile superhero. They have big dreams which is commendable,
so what's the big deal ? Well everything. Diving deeper, many companies are using this term "agile" as a tool to cover up waterfallish way of doing business, for them agile is nothing more but just business. They are looking at it as means to cut down budget to layoff onshore and re hire offshore, then demand projects to be completed on time and with quality and when these high expectations are not met someone has to be blamed and in our case it's the mister agile. This type of stressful environment with constant changes and unstable teams not only creates burnout but most of all becomes the bottleneck for teams to deliver better product in shorter time. So the very thing which supposed to aid in continuous improvement has become the monster that's stopping them from growing.
Let's ask ourselves is this really what agility is?

On the other hand the issue is the focus on certification over mindset, project managers are undergoing scrum conversion but instead of carefully leading their teams through the transformation by upholding the 12 principles they are forcibly imposing this new way on them without allowing for the room to experiment, make mistakes, learn and grow together as a unit. Agile will not work but certainly fail when we use it to conceal our micromanaging ways. It cannot thrive in a rigid climate where the focal point is how many story points can you deliver in 2 weeks and how fast can you make this and that happen. Instead true agility facilitates a pipeline for both business and tech to have transparent conversations in a safe fearless environment with the customer at the center and the teams having the power to share their technical expertise. So any agile framework will expose the weaknesses that the system in place has and it is up to the leadership if they desire true shift or not.
Nevertheless we rarely see holistic agility happen in real life not because agile is bad (it's like saying all chocolate is bad when in fact good quality cacao is a superfood if consumed in wisdom), but because there is misalignment between the leadership and its employees. Real changes start at the top and trickle down, if you are seeing great dissatisfaction with agile at your work place ask yourself if your teams are encouraged to fail fast or are they being reprimanded for not meeting the highly favoured velocity. We have to stop using agile as a mantra but instead be open to trying new things, if one way doesn't work for your team, try something else. It is about building healthy teams in the end and amplifying creativity and growth. It is not all size fits all type of method but an invitation to a journey of discovery of what works for you and not against you. So my encouragement to the struggling scrum masters and teams would be to do what's best for everyone, have empathy and don't be afraid of uncomfortable conversations.
I would love to hear your opinions about this topic, don't be shy to leave your comments. Talk soon !

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