Project Management

Danger, Will Robinson! 5 Anti-Patterns of Agile Adoption

Bob Galen is the President and Principal Consultant of RGCG, L.L.C. a Cary, N.C.-based agile methods coaching & training consultancy. He is a deeply experienced Agile & Certified Scrum Coach (CSC) who is active in the agile community and regularly writes & teaches on all topics related to the agile methods. Bob has written two agile related books: Scrum Product Ownership, a definitive work surrounding agile product ownership, and Agile Reflections, which is focused toward mature agile patterns. He can be reached at [email protected] and join his mailing list at

Nearly every day, I encounter teams who are violently, passionately and extremely “going agile”. They look at is a life-changing event. Quite often, their thoughts surround the following:

  • Leaders and Managers: consider it a force multiplier for driving more stuff to sell
  • Teams: consider it a way of having fun building software without the management overhead
  • Project Managers: consider it a disruptive change and are often “deathly afraid” of it
  • Everyone else: seem to be “along for the ride”

And in a way, all of the above have a sense of truth about them. I’ll certainly agree with the “you’re in for the ride of your life” aspect. With these thoughts and emotions often come questions for me. As an experienced agile coach, I often get asked about agile tactics and practices--what works and what doesn’t.

Many are looking for a “silver bullet” answer. For example, just tell me how to estimate using Planning Poker, or what’s the right length for a sprint? I often struggle with giving direct answers because of the complex and contextual nature of agile. There are no singular answers. Each team’s mileage will vary, and they need to largely figure things out for themselves. And this ambiguity often frustrates my clients and students. Many of them don’t want to discover it …

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"Experience is a comb which nature gives to men when they are bald."

- Chinese Proverb