Saturday, November 27, 2010

When Agile becomes Rigid

Agile teams are supposed to be agile. Yet, there are agile teams run by over zealous agile coaches, who in their quest to become agile have actually become rigid. In fact, very rigid. If you see the following signs, you are in one such team:
  • It is the Agile coach's way or the highway. He/She will parrot prescriptions from various agile books on how it should actually be done. Forget the manual, coach. True agile is not supposed to be prescriptive. Good ideas can come from anywhere - include the team by your side that's still (Oh, my God!) practising iterative/waterfall.
  • The agile coach will  not let a member of the team to participate in other important meetings/discussions in the organization, because "it will affect the team's commitments to the sprint!". Yes, the sprint is important but the organization is more important.
  • You feel like you are followinng a cult rather than a software development methodology.
  • The team is apparently "self organized" - or so the agile coach says. Repeatedly. And yet, all major decisions are from the agile coach.
  • It's easier to stop the earth's rotation than to change the schedule of the Sprint ("we have committed these deliverables to the customer"). It doesn't matter that there are existing customer who probably want a fix urgently. Oh no, nothing can come in the way of the Sprint!
  • All  the fun at work is lost. It's all about commitments and not letting your team down. And yet, ironically, there's a lot of talk about "the team is a family", "active socializing", "protecting the team member from context switching". etc. You didn't hear such talk in your "waterfall" team and yet you felt like it was a family. Strange, eh?
  • Life is a series of Sprints. You are reduced to a Sprint Monkey going from one sprint to another. Even your schedule at home, revolves around these sprints ("I don't have time to throw the trash, dear. I'm in the middle of a sprint!").
If you are in one such team, remind your agile coach about agility. It's not enough to follow agile practises - you actually need to be agile.

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