10 things we hate about Agile!

Starting this blog Saloua and I made a vow not to become one of those lovy dovy blogs that treat IMG_20151112_125341agile as a new religion (Yep. There are some hardcore believers out there. They can be scary!). We also vowed not to become a pretentious known-it-all agile blog. We díd however vow to write about our journey. And a journey can be hard at times. There are the great highs and there are some lows. We love agile and believe in it’s principles. But let’s be honest. Sometimes agile sucks! It can feel like agile’s really trying hard to make you either cry in a restroom or just give up. So, here’s to honesty!

10 things we hate about agile!

  1. Control freak, move over! Coming from two huge control freaks, this is a killer. In agile, there’s squad responsibility and ownership. Great. But sometimes it’s not so great to hand over your task to a squattie who still has to learn. Or just does things a little different than you (Not worse. Not better. Just different 🙂 )
  2. Get real & reveal! Agile is all about transparency and visibility. As every user story, even every task, is assigned to a squad member, you can nicely track progress. It enables the squad to continue improving. But it also exposes your weaknesses and flaws. Always stalling that one task you hate but is part of your job? In agile, that is (sometimes painfully) visible.
  3. Ambition & realism ain’t always friends! Working at a large organisation, it can be hard to apply agile methodology and culture to your processes, applications and external stakeholders. It takes discipline and patience. Two qualities Saloua and I have a bit of a challenge with. Find a balance between being ambitious and define realistic steps toward that ambition.
  4. End to end feels like finding neverland! What does the buzz word end-to-end mean? Should you form squads with all capabilities needed for one purpose? And what if a part of your purpose is outsourced? Or what if your front-end guys can only start working when the engine services are fully tested on A? How to form the squad?
  5. Autonomous yet alligned! Squads are autonomous. Again, great! Autonomy empowers squads and enlarges the execution power of your organization. But being autonomous doesn’t mean there’s no need for alligment anymore. Informing and being informed to make sure your organization is doing the right things is still essential for success. Maybe even more than ever! “Meeting” is not perse a dirty word.
  6. It ain’t no holy grail! Agile won’t magically solve all your organizational challenges. It requires hard work and – again – discipline and patience. It’s a mean to get you to your goal, it’s not the goal itself. Sometimes people seem to forget that.
  7. Old habits die hard! Ever tried to stop smoking? Or drinking? Or did a diet? You have to constantly remind yourself to do it differently than your mind is used to due to your previous excperience. Same goes for agile. Used to ask your manager for permission and hide behind that mandate? Not anymore!
  8. Embrace your mistakes! Agile is all about finding out what works best for your situation using a few basic principles. It takes time to make it work. You make mistakes. You change. You learn. We don’t particulary like mistakes. We sort of hate them. Breathe in, breathe out, learn, adjust, try again!
  9. What about the bigger picture! Agile encourages you to focus on the next immediate steps. While doing that, it’s so easy to forget about the bigger picture. You need to combine the two, but that can be a challenge to fit into your day to day work.
  10. Go hard or go home! For us, this is one of the most crucial elements. Your whole organization, from top to bottom, has to stick to agile principles. That means from CEO to junior engineer and from Tribe Lead to Agile Coach. Discipline and patience!

Wow! That’s a relieve! And can you believe that – in spite of it all – we still love trying to make it work every day. Because when it works – and that happens 🙂  – it rocks hard! We are curious, do you reckognise these bullits? Something we missed or maybe something you have a different opinion on?

Cheers, Marijke

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5 thoughts on “10 things we hate about Agile!

  1. Sounds to me like 10 facts of life, not 10 things to hate. Embrase change may be a thing to hate, but then you are likely to hate agile completely.

    What I realy hate about agile movement is that the self proclaimed agile gurus are so inmature to make it a religious battle between methods.

    Another thing I realy hate is if agile is used by managent as cost reduction tool. But that is more something to hate about managers and not about agile.

    1. Hi Marcel, thanks for your feedback! We completely agree that all bullits are true for any methodology, but the second one is the one that is typical for agile: get real and reveal. In our experience, agile methodology is about transparency and uncovers both your strengths and weaknesses. Cheers, have a great weekend, Marijke

    2. Hi Marc, indeed they are 10 facts of life..and they are our way as well to say that we are no guru’s and agile is no religion. I definitely (And sadly) recognize your last point on agile to cover up cost reduction measures. However, I think and believe that the people on the floor can still make the magic happen despite any bad intentions behind going for agile.

  2. Wederom een super leuk stukje. Ik keer er weer van!!
    Waar halen jullie toch elke keer secties vandaan om dit zo leuk te schrijven? Grtz Nicole

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