Avoid Agile Shortcuts and Half Measures

Avoid Agile Shortcuts and Half Measures

We Need an Agile Shortcut or Hack

As a coach, I frequently meet with managers of software development teams to talk about Agile. They get excited when I talk about Scrum or Agile Project Management and how they might improve their software development processes and team productivity. They look forward to some quick wins and low hanging fruit.

When I describe the rigor and discipline of Scrum teams and the mindset change required to support empowered and self-organizing teams, they tend to bristle. Letting go of control sounds too radical to them. “We want evolutionary change,” they say, “not revolutionary”.

They are hoping that by taking on a few Scrum terms and making a few agile tweaks, that somehow they will get the benefits of changing without really changing. That would be like trying to improve your health by adding kale to your Big Mac combo at McDonald’s. It is a half measure at best.

Hybrid Agile Project Management Is Not Really Agile

I’ve met with one particular software development manager several times. His teams are using fake Scrum. They’ve relabeled their previous process using scrum terminology like sprints and daily Scrum and they now call their project managers Scrum Masters.

They use a 4-week “sprint” for development and the next 4-week “sprint” for testing. I don’t know why this manager keeps asking to meet and discuss his challenges. I don’t think he is really interested in change. He is a micro-manager.

All team decisions go through him. Both he and his manager have a strong command and control style. Their current mindset doesn’t allow them to understand and embrace empowered and self-organizing teams.

True Agility Requires a Shift to an Agile Mindset

And while I believe I am a great coach and my agile training classes for teams and leaders are impactful, I don’t feel confident that it would be a good investment in time with this manager and his organization.

They want the benefits, but they don’t want to change their current habits or do the difficult work that would be required to implement Scrum properly.

I liken this to wanting those six-pack abs, but being unwilling to do crunches. Or thinking that 7-minute Abs is better than 8-minute abs. Stop thinking of half measures! Stop trying to come up with hybrid agile project management approaches.

The shortest path to high-performance teams for controlling managers is to empower the team and create an environment where the team can do their best work. This requires a fundamental mindset change. If that is your goal, read my blog on creating high-performing teams here.

Investors in Search of 7-Minute Abs: http://awealthofcommonsense.com/2016/03/investors-in-search-of-7-minute-…

Anthony Mersino is the founder of Vitality Chicago, an Agile Training and Coaching firm devoted to helping Teams THRIVE and Organizations TRANSFORM. He is also the author of two books, Agile Project Management, and Emotional Intelligence for Project Managers.

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