Agile doesn’t always stick


While the agile values and principles seem to be common sense to most people who discover them, some people abandon them after a while.

This is a real mystery to me. Why would you even consider changing back to the old way of working?
Am I just too caught up in agile? Are there things I’m missing?

I’ve seen it happen.
We started a project with a promising new product owner who was really enthusiastic about adapting to change, customer collaboration, lightweight process, leadership and visual management.
The project had its difficulties, but we managed to provide real customer value.

Several projects later, I got a chance to work with him again. It turned out to be a complete disappointment.
Instead of his previous beliefs, I noticed a completely opposite mindset. These are some of his quotes:

  • “We have a difficult customer, so let’s not include him in the analysis work. We’ll decide for him.”
  • “We must document every meeting in detail, so that our back is covered.”
  • “I shouldn’t be involved in testing the developed features. I should focus on business analysis.”
  • “Features don’t need to be analyzed too much before they go into a sprint planning. It’s the team’s responsibility to work out the details.”

What are the benefits of working this way?
The team often misses their sprints because of the poor ready state of the backlog.
After each demo, the customer asks for numerous changes because the new features don’t match with his view.
A feature can never be considered done because no acceptance testing is done, etc.

Maybe it is more comfortable working this way? It requires less effort, less discussions, less preparation and planning.

Aren’t we all morally obliged to work as efficiently as possible so in the end we get as much value for as little money?

Maybe this is not related to agile at all, it might be an organizational issue.

About Nick Oostvogels

Hi, I'm an independent management consultant. My biggest strengths are located in the fields of teamwork, motivation, leadership and continuous improvement. In the IT industry you find a lot of these values in the agile movement, in which I often act as a project leader, product owner or coach. My interests go a lot further, into other industries where we find these values in lean production. Besides that, I try to broaden my horizon as much as possible, always looking for better ways of doing business.

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