The ‘Dysfunctional Agile’ Trap

dysfunctional-team

The growth of Agile in the public and private sectors has led to many cases of dysfunctional Agile – where organisations are mechanically going through the motions, but are failing to realise the benefits Agile has to offer.

At best, those companies that fall foul of the dysfunctional Agile trap are finding it frustratingly hard and costly to transition to Agile; at worst they’re losing significant market share.

And when this happens, ‘Agile’ gets the blame.

The Problem With Agile…

AngerA common problem I constantly encounter with people and organisations struggling to get Agile to work for them is this…

They’re focusing on the wrong things – whilst ignoring the key fundamentals that make Agile work.

Now, if your goal is just to slap a few ‘Agile’ labels on what you’ve always been doing, and you have no desire to reap the Agile benefits of higher profits, lower costs, improved quality and quicker time to market, then I wish you well…

…Just remember that Einstein defines madness as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

But if you recognise that in today’s fast paced, highly competitive business world, agility is not only essential for retaining market share and business survival, done properly, it can also give your company a significant competitive advantage, lower risk exposure and earlier return on investment, then watch this video…

Proof Agile Doesn’t Work

canstock12611275-proof-blueWhilst recently attending a networking event, I was asked what I do, to which I replied I’m an Agile & Lean consultant.

Being this was not a software development related event, my response was met by blank faces; until one of the group I was speaking to (who I’ll call ‘John’ for the purpose of this post) commented that “agile is a project management methodology used in software development.”

Feeling this was not the time to be pedantic, I agreed that agiles’ roots can be traced back to software development – adding that agility has since become a strategic approach for cutting costs, getting an earlier return on investment and gaining a competitive advantage, widely used across many industries.

John then asked if we could catch up later to talk ‘agile’ as his organisation was considering adopting it.

“Sure” I said, “Let’s do that.”

The Mysterious Case of the ‘Agile’ Duck

Baby-DuckMy son will be 3 next month.

And he’s currently at the stage of language development where he generalises.

Which makes for some very interesting — sometimes embarrassing — moments.

For example, whilst walking down the street the other day we saw an elderly man. And being the friendly type he is, my son waved to him and said “Hello Grandad” — even though the man was a complete stranger and definitely not one of his granddads.

But my son’s current level of logical thinking led him to generalise that since both his grandad’s are elderly, then all elderly men must be ‘Grandads’ too.

Now here’s the thing…

…although such generalisations made by toddlers developing language skills might be acceptable (even laughable), the same cannot always be said when illogical conclusions are drawn by adults — especially those expected to know better.

Let’s take Agile implementation for example…

Mind Your ‘Agile’ Language

ConfusedI recently got back from honeymooning in the Dominican Republic.

It was a wonderful experience.

Except for the language barrier off course. Because in the Dom Rep they speak Spanish – and I don’t.

So naturally, a few things got lost in translation (like the time I asked for a ‘shandy’ and got met with confused faces)

That said, because words only make up 7% of communication, during those rare times when there wasn’t an English speaking person on hand to save me from further embarrassment, I did manage to get by using gestures and facial expressions.

And that got me thinking about how often we use language ineffectively — especially when communicating with people who speak the same language as us.

Take agile transition for example…