“Dear management, we’re already agile”


Agile is good, but we need management support for it“. “Agile adoption should start from management“. “Our agile adoption failed because management didn’t support it“. You hear it all the time, right? Indeed, such claims are everywhere. For example, 7th VersionOne’s State of agile survey says that in 63% cases initial agile champions were from management and also 31% says that management support is the biggest barrier for further agile adoption.
Well, it seems to me more like excuse then like a real barrier. People sometimes forget that bottom-up approach to agile adoption is all legal. Mike Cohn in his book Succeeding with Agile call it a “natural” approach.

I think that one of the reasons for such view could be that people don’t start from principles, but from practices. Starting directly from practices like Scrum could make you believe that you need deep organizational changes to start your agile journey. And organizational change needs, you guess – management support. What’s even more interesting that another reason is waterfall itself. To be more precise waterfall’s big upfront planning rule. It’s a kind of thinking legacy built into our brains that everything, including agile adoption, should be planned in details to succeed. And such big upfront planning and big decisions need, again – management.

Well, wrong.

Agility is a set of principles applied not only to an organization, but to people, too. Uncle Bob goes even further from here and says that “TDD is a personal decision“. Such a thought can be applied to some other practices and principles like kanban, pair programming, refactoring,…
Everyone should be aware that adopting some agile principles DOES NOT depend about management. I was a part of a team that tried and succeed in adopting Scrum without explicit decision and guidance by management. You can start tomorrow. No excuses!
It will happen that your manager will come back from some conference or training and will ask you to adopt agile. Put yourself in a position that you can say: “Dear boss, we’re already agile”.

One thought on ““Dear management, we’re already agile””

  1. I’ve always believed that part of the reason I enjoy agile so much is because, as a developer, I always worked with agility. Then when I joined a team, we collaborated and communicated in an agile way. So, like you suggest, when the organization decided to ‘do agile’, it was an opportunity for us to learn to do it better, but it didn’t significantly change our way of thinking.

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