Agile Adoption Requires Adaptation

A blog post at the Harvard Business Review, “Why Best Practices Are Hard to Practice”, is worth reading for anyone trying to introduce agile practices into a waterfall shop. The two key ideas in the article are:

  1. Introducing a new process into an organization requires adaptation. Just because an approach worked in another firm doesn’t mean it will work in yours.
  2. The introduction of a new process requires full adoption. The management team needs to buy in and actively support the approach.

Adaptation is the need to fine tune a new process so that it fits the organization. Company culture, management style, development tools, and even office space constraints will impact how an agile methodology is implemented.

Don’t get into a fight with the establishment. Try to adapt your techniques to fit into the organizational norms. For example, if a group manager assists on attending the daily Scrum meetings, let him. Try negotiating how the person should behave at the meeting. Set aside time to discuss the results of each day’s meeting so the manager feels comfortable.

Adoption reflects the need to get support from managers across the organization. They don’t have to be staunch supporters. At a minimum, they need to agree to give agile a chance — to wait and see.

Project success requires that everyone on the team is engaged and focused. If anyone feels like they are being pulled away or distracted, success becomes more difficult.

So be sure you adapt to the situation and be sure the organization adopts agile for real. There are no guarantees but your odds will improve — and there will be a lot less stress.

Updated: December 31, 2010 — 5:11 pm