From startups to corporate leviathans, the business directive to be more Agile tends to ring hollow. Scrum is the most popular Agile adoption of a lean mind. Scrum, itself, unfortunately, becomes a confusion multiplier for organizations looking to adapt. Many do not realize the direct link Scrum has to Agile or, worse, the direct link Agile has to Lean.
In practice, Agile is more a fragile mismanagement mindset of misplaced expectation that others do as management retains control. Without better Agile management adoption when an executive calls to “be more Agile”, it really means:
- Get faster results,
- in less time, and
- less resources.
Forbes touts Agile, The World’s Most Popular Innovation Engine, Agile expectation does not align to Agile implementation and adoption. The most often employed Agile framework is Scrum.
Without shared understanding of Agile, Scrum by design or Agile by announcement, the practice does not live up to Agile or Scrum or any change.
Agile Example for Some
What, however, is Agile? Agile works as a:
- Project management framework,
- Business management tool,
- Manufacturing discipline, and
- Cost control
Yes. Agile is about lower cost and faster response. The response comes from customer feedback and the reduced cost comes from less rework.
Agile gets talked about, planned, trained, and expected. Teams and departments and divisions pit Agile against the expectation of what others do, less shared understanding of what we do, together.
Agile is not just about what you take out. Agile is about the right focus, a customer-centric focus. Agile is often associated as a:
- Software development approach,
- Application development method, and
- User experience design strategy
The organization drive for faster response to customer need is an outside-in view of organization design, rather than inside-out for Agile to become:
- Employee empowerment method,
- Productivity process accelerator, and
- Business sustainability advantage
Scrum by Fiat
As the leading Agile delivery method, Scrum, itself becomes the change management goal. Scrum has productivity goals, but more importantly Scrum has:
- Employee empowerment objective,
- Communication transparency focus, and
- Self-organization principle
To use Scrum you must retain the three, not pick and choose between them.
You can not run a Scrum team through dictate. When you pick, choose, and dictate, Scrum then becomes “um”, as in: “um, I don’t know what you call that, but, that, is most certainly not Scrum”.
When Scrum becomes “um”, then productivity evaporates and tried and stale command and control takes over the waterfall.
Refresh your Agile view of what Scrum is and aspires to. Of note in this refresh: Scrum is not a software or application development solution. The video is a great example of Scrum co-founder and constant learner, Jeff Sutherland.
As there is no “I” in team, there is no “I” in Scrum, either. Let’s begin to take the “um” out of the command and control Scrum mentality and the cost-cutting psychosis Agile has wrought corporate over-lords.
Challenges remain taking Agile from pockets of success into a new operating model for company-wide Agile development. Believe me, as the McKinsey article points out, large-scale Agile transformation is not a small challenge, but shared pain.
Being Agile requires more flexibility than a Lego piece. Agile adoption starts with an Agile mindset in learning, seeing, and doing things differently with more points of articulation.
You can not prescribe Scrum, you need an Agile mindset to aspire to what Scrum can unleash.
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