Trust--backed by skilled developers--is the core element of any Agile methodology. Within the project team, the trust is relatively short term and the model is trust, but validate.
The sub-teams are trusted to build a module in a short sprint of some form and the results are validated. Where a paradigm shift in trust is needed is between the organization's senior management and the Agile project leadership.
Traditional project management grew in an environment where the triple constraints of time, cost and output could be clearly defined early in the project life cycle, and certainly well before major funds were committed. For example, builders would tender on a reasonably complete set of design documents and offer a firm price and time.
The concept of predictability flowed into Waterfall; senior management expected a defined design, backed by cost and time estimates before committing to the project. This approach does not work very often but sits comfortably with the "command and control" management paradigm most organizations adopt.
An Agile approach to problem solving is quite different. The Agile team wants to be trusted to work with the product's end-users to craft a solution over a period of time. They are saying to senior management: "Trust us to come up with the best outcome. We'll know what it looks like at the end."
With the right level of two-way trust, senior management can use Agile to maximize value. Essentially they can guide their teams using one of two approaches:
We want the biggest bang for our buck. You have X budget and X months to do the most you can. We trust you to spend our resources wisely to achieve the greatest value.
We need this regulatory requirement embedded in our systems by X. We trust you to deliver the required change in the most cost- and time-efficient way.
In both scenarios the Agile team is trusted to craft the optimum solution working with the end-users. The challenge is developing this level of trust. Unfortunately, even where change is desperately needed, it rarely occurs. In Leading Change, J.P. Kotter suggests over two-thirds of change efforts fail. Clearly, building the trust needed to allow the benefits of Agile to be realized will require some serious project management discipline.
To be continued ...