What’s holding you (or your organization) from being Agile?

So you got yourself a scrum manager, had a meeting with the team, explain the scrum practices and wrote a product backlog. 4 months later things aren’t going as you expected… this Agile talk is all nonsense – you say as you walk disappointed – we were supposed to be able to ship faster, to fix bugs faster, to add new features faster… Before throwing the baby with the water, let’s consider some of the possible causes.

Your codebase is not Agile

This is by far the most common reason I have found on my experience. You have a code that breaks every time you introduce a change (fragile), or that has you change a lot of places every time you add a new feature (rigid). You cannot be agile with a codebase that fights you every step of the way. Focusing on processes and ignoring the codebase is often the reason why organizations fail when trying to implement Agile methodologies.

Your mindset is not Agile

If you think that a scrum master is a manager, you’re not Agile.
If you think that a backlog is like a Gantt chart, you’re not Agile.
If you think that you need a separate team (or phase) for testing, you’re not Agile.
If you think that story points are a unit of time rather than effort, you’re not Agile.
If you think that value is determined by someone else than the end user, you’re not Agile.

Your feedback loop is too loose

To me Agile means feedback. I remember that one of the things that surprise me the most on a scrum training was this exercise where we get to create something physical, present it, get feedback on it, and turn that into a user story/task. The trainer then proceeds to explain that the sooner we get the feedback, the sooner we would be able to adjust to get on the right track. He talked about how a sprint should have several opportunities to get feedback so by the end we get the right product and not only the product right.

Lack of enough experienced developers

This one is actually kind of logic. If you don’t have enough experienced developers, how do you expect to have a flexible, high-quality codebase? Having enough experienced developers that you can pair with less senior developers helps you improve the overall team level. Whereas having just a few of them tends to become a bottleneck for the whole team since everyone depends on them somehow.

Closing words

I am, by no means, an expert on Agile. These are just my observations on some of the most common errors I’ve seen in my professional career.

Do you think I’m missing one? leave your comments below.