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“Yeah, we’re doing agile. Been doing it for some time now.”

Really?

I know it’s not good to doubt straight away but I’ve developed this skepticism when people say they are doing agile. It has come from speaking with different team members and senior management about their impression of ‘agile’. For sometime now agile has become an overloaded term that many don’t fully understand. I get into a situation when someone says those words I feel like they have to prove it! But proving it, even to ourselves, can help us evaluate if we have lost sight of an original goal. It’s so easy to get immersed in the usual routine that we forget to take a moment to stop and look up.

For the most part, I believe senior management or other stakeholders actually this think agile is being done correctly and this is where the problem lies! They see daily stand ups happening and think we’ve hit agile perfection. This is a dangerous situation to be in because the developers know the real story, they experience the pain, but nothing will change if senior management don’t think it needs to.

So what do we do? Tell them!

I would bet that many who say they are doing ‘agile’ have never looked at the manifesto…maybe don’t even know a manifesto exists! Do you know people like this?

Surely no one can be happy if they are aiming to be agile and only releasing to production 4 times a year? I know I wasn’t! This is not effectively responding to change, not from a customer’s perspective anyway, and how will that help the customer collaboration? Senior management are always interested in the customers perspective (aren’t we all?), so showing ways to improve their experience is the way to start. Start with the manifesto!

We all need to regularly remind ourselves…

Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
Working software over comprehensive documentation
Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
Responding to change over following a plan

Telling management maybe easier said than done, every organisation has their own challenges, but I feel it’s our duty to try! Whether we are a manager or developer simply by explaining the current issues and how they could be improved can have a big impact if the senior management share your passion.

I don’t believe anyone can do agile perfectly as there are always improvements/changes to make, but to do agile efficiently can be a massive cultural change depending on the start point. But before anything can change program can begin it has to start with teaching those who are under the impression that everything is just fine, when it clearly isn’t!

Whether your company needs a big change or only small adjustments, it needs someone with the passion to highlight where improvements can be made – is that you? Even if it falls on deaf ears to start with…don’t give up!

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