What to Do When Agile Turns Rigid

Gil Broza's mission is to make software development more effective, humane and responsible. He helps people pick up where Scrum left off, especially on the technical and the human sides of Agile. Gil is the author of "The Human Side of Agile", the definitive practical book on leading Agile teams to greatness. Any given day, you can find him coaching, consulting, training, speaking, facilitating, and writing. Get Gil's popular 20-session mini-program, "Something Happened on the Way to Agile", free at OnTheWayToAgile.com.

Agile has been advertised as cheaper, better, faster. And to boot, agile is touted to come with a clear process, a set of documented practices, tools and even certified consultants. So tempting that it has become the new darling in organizations large and small.

But here’s the rub: business improvements don’t always follow, while unpleasant side effects sometimes do happen. As a consultant, I am frequently called upon to help when an agile implementation isn’t quite meeting expectations. And although my clients struggle in different ways, they have the following in common:

  • Early on, they started using one of the popular agile lifecycle management (ALM) tools.
  • They use Scrum, doing their best to fulfill its expectations for practices, artifacts and roles.
  • They follow many of the “best practices” associated with agile.
  • Despite the framework’s built-in continuous improvement loop, their process improves little--they just try harder.

Agile is Not a Prescription. It’s a Mindset.
Agile is a specific approach to work. As such, it guides our decisions about what to work on, planning the work, engaging people and performing as teams, doing the work and working better. We reflect this mindset in team structure, process design, practices, tool choices, meetings and artifacts--all the visible elements of work that yield results…

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