Why People are Concerned about Agile
· First, obviously, it is different. It is hugely different, and that always causes a little bit of anxiety.
· Another reason is that organizations and people often feel it may leave them with a lack of control.
· They might feel Agile is chaotic, and they are going to lose control. Agile is certainly a change for most people because it uses some ‘crazy’ terms like decentralizing decision-making.
· It does not need management in a team. This uniqueness just makes people wary of it. There are so many mechanisms, built-in risk mitigation factors. It is such a transparent process that it is exceedingly difficult for people to hide and do the wrong things. That is really the key. It reduces anxiety because many things are built to help make sure people are making good decisions.
· This leads to something else; we want to start encouraging organizations and ourselves as well. We want to encourage that concept or belief that experimentation is good. Everything we do is an experiment, so we are going to try something that we believe is the right thing to work on, and we are going to get to the end of whatever it is in a short time. We are going to discover if it was the right thing or not, and if it is not, we will change right there.
· There is a misconception that you must be in Scrum and nothing else if you are Agile. That is utter nonsense. We have what we call a category of smells. Things that do not smell all that, is one of them. If we have an organization that says everyone must practice Scrum, they have not really understood the Agile mindset and philosophy. It is supposed to be very flexible. It is supposed to be a situation where you can choose what makes the most sense for your specific context.
· Scrum and Kanban have some major differences though both are Agile frameworks. One of the big differences is that you are doing these iterations and you are time-boxing in Scrum. And the expectation is that within that small, perhaps two-week time box, we are encouraging scope to not change that timeframe. Well, there are some situations where that is not possible and this is where Kanban may be an option. Imagine if you are doing infrastructure rollouts or operations, you do not know what you are working out tomorrow, let alone two weeks from now. So trying to put in a framework that insists or at least strongly encourages some control within those two weeks, is not going to work in every situation. We should be flexible. Every team should have the right to choose the process that makes the most sense. So, it is important for us to not be too concerned about it. Agile is actually very simple and straightforward.
In Agile, we take a different approach – you are given the absolute bare bones or the minimum framework that will work for you, then you are expected to tailor up. You add complexity only when you recognize that you need it. It is a different approach. Choose which makes the most sense for you, but the idea is to keep it simple, keep it lightweight, do not put a lot of process overhead.
Something else about Agile is we rely very heavily on people being adults. We expect our team members to be adults and do their jobs, and we should not have to drive them. We rely on that; we rely on the people aspect of the process, but we still have some very good risk mitigation techniques in the meantime as well.
There are many good books on the people and psychological aspects of Scrum and Agile that one can tap into. Let us look at the people aspect for a minute. As I mentioned, we rely very heavily on the people. It is one of the Agile Manifesto values, and that is an individual’s interactions over processes and tools. We do value the processes and tools. Scrum is a kind of process. There are lots and lots of tools out there that we make use of, but what we really care about more, and what makes everything work, are the people doing the work and how they interact with each other.