Crisis Management Is Disruptive to Agile Teams

Crisis management is a tough job. The biggest problem isn’t solving the technical problem — given a little time, you surely can solve it.

The biggest problem is disrupting priorities. It plays out like this:

  1. A crisis situation develops.
  2. Priorities change to get people focused on the crisis.
  3. Staff is moved around to get more people involved in solving the crisis.
  4. The crisis is resolved and things return to normal — almost.
  5. At least one of the projects that lost staff to the crisis is now in crisis — or will be soon.
  6. The cycle repeats.

Once you get into crisis management mode, it can be difficult to get out.

There is no simple way to avoid this conundrum. When crisis happens, and inevitably it will, take a moment to evaluate scenarios and outcomes. Consider a few key questions:

  • What if you ignore the crisis or take minimal action? What is the worst that could happen?
  • If you drop everything and go into full-blown crisis mode, what benefits will accrue?
  • If you delay other projects, what consequences will likely occur?

Your team will still have a crisis to manage but at least you’ll be making informed decisions and not just reactionary ones.

Updated: January 18, 2011 — 10:43 pm