What Stands in the Way of an Agile Transformation?

Craig Larman and Bas Vodde have published a list of the top ten impediments organizations face when attempting to adopt agile management methods, based on a survey of agile experts at very large companies. Now, I know most of us don’t like to be reminded about what we’re doing wrong, but, frankly, that’s exactly why I’d recommend taking a look at this. You might recognize some of these anti-patterns. In fact, some may be much too close to the bone. Of course, being aware of the anti-patterns we perpetuate in an agile environment is the first step toward eliminating them.

I won’t spoil the countdown for you, but I will speak to a pair of impediments that the authors mention that were not reported by the survey respondents:

  1. “A culture of individual workers rather than real teams and teamwork;” and
  2. “The gap between people in management roles and those doing the hands-on work.”

Both of these impediments boil down to an issue of “culture,” which I would argue is the single biggest obstacle preventing teams from successfully implementing agile practices. Why? Quite simply, if a team is unprepared for or unwilling to acknowledge the fact that agile is significantly different from traditional management paradigms, then it will continue to operate according to the status quo. For change to truly stick at an organization, all of its employees—from management to “those doing the hands-on work”—must understand the magnitude of the adoption and revise their working methods accordingly. When a culture embraces the changes precipitated by an agile adoption, those values can quickly move throughout an organization and allow process improvements to take place. But if the culture obstinately clings to old, familiar ways of working, there’s little chance of it evolving.

Posted under Agile Methodology, Uncategorized

This post was written by admin on June 18, 2009

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