There are lots of Agile teams out there in the world. Some are having a great time with great results. Many have come to rely on brute force and long hours.
In these organizations, not even the Agile practices (e.g., backlog, estimation, planning, “done”) are followed — it’s more like code, ship, and hope. However, these things can be fixed. Don’t panic!
Leaders, are you happy with your situation?
Let’s do a quick inventory. Check which items are true for you. You can:
- Predict deadlines
- Predict quality
- Produce deliverables with little rework
- Deliver on time to achieve revenue
- Deliver more software each year
Now let’s dig deeper to see what is going on. Which set of behaviors below describe your current situation? You might have some characteristics from each list. They are not bad, and even the “young” ones are based on positive intentions. They are simply indicators of where your group is and where it would like to be.
The “young” organization
- Well-intentioned crises and frequent priority changes are created to maintain focus.
- Management and staff are not happy with their output, timeliness, or the effort required to deliver products.
- Management focuses on “growth,” but the definition of growth depends on who you ask. Definitions include, an increase in the volume of software, the size of the organization, gross sales, and net profit.
- Innovation might be abundant, but it is out of control, so little gets completed.
- Best practices (or even good ones) are optional. Attending meetings is optional. Working long hours and weekly status reports are required.
The “adult” organization
- “Growth” and “success” have been defined. The definitions typically include: a) customer satisfaction; b) less than 10% rework; c) an increase in production each year; and d) profit.
- Management is serious about estimates, schedules, and commitments, as well as what it takes to achieve growth.
- Focus is placed on operational excellence and systems at the practitioner level to achieve certainty.
- Management adopts professional practices to raise and maintain the standard for the organization; accountability is rewarded.
- Management can step away and focus on long-term issues now that there is a reliable system to develop software.
Which organization do you work in, and in what direction do you want to head? All the challenges described are very solvable but they require new skills and a new direction.
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