The Manifesto for Agile Software Development gave us four values supported by a dozen guiding principles. While methodologies or practices can be domain specific, taken as a whole, the Manifesto’s values and principles can be applied to almost any industry or domain to deliver customer value in an efficient, people-focused manner.
But there is one more value which might have helped to avoid some of the failures attributed to agile transformations – agility over agendas.
Do any of the following behaviors sound familiar?
- Empire building – vest someone with the authority to lead an agile transformation and they might join the Dark Side by setting up squads of Stormtrooper Scrum Masters
- Turf protection – this often seen in functional managers who might view the restructuring of teams and development of generalizing specialists as a dilution of their formal authority or encroachment on their fiefdoms
- Framework fanaticism – the Balkanization of agile methods and certifications has helped spawn a large number of fundamentalists who are unwilling to accept that their chosen method or credential might not be universally applicable. This is an unfortunate side effect of limited exposure to the significant breadth of agile knowledge.
- Hoarding knowledge – the desired shift to T-skills might cause panic in those who have rested on their deep but narrow competencies as they fear being dispensable rather than embracing this as a resilience opportunity to learn new skills
- Prioritizing politics over progress – who is best suited to fill a key role such as a Product Owner or Scrum Master might not always align with the politics of an organization or department
- Ego stroking – it might be a Product Owner using an autocratic approach towards prioritizing the backlog or a team member who refuses to have someone partner with them in pair programming or other non-solo work
Some of these behaviors are hardwired into us from our Neanderthal days, and to in small doses might sometimes result in good outcomes. But when we double-down on them at the cost of agility, we need someone to remind us that we’ve lost perspective.
If you see something, say something and remind the parties involved to value agility over agendas.