You used to practice them, but then got sloppy.
Or you never really learned to practice them that well before the need to scale was pressed upon you, and now things are growing up and out too quickly to go back and shore up the details.
How do I know this?
I’m just playing the odds that your organization probably falls into that very large group that is struggling to realize the potential of Agile. And I’m considering what I observe all too frequently to be at the root of the struggle.
We all know what we have to do if we want to get in shape, right? Eat better, eat less, and exercise regularly. Simple. So why does the fitness industry rake in tens of billions of dollars annually, while the incidence of obesity and diseases related to lack of fitness keep increasing?
Want to build a financial nest egg? Save and invest more, and consume less, of course. Again, very straightforward, but current research indicates that 76% of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck. Why?
For both of the above, the answer is, more often than not a) the delusion that “the normal rules don’t apply to my situation”, and/or b) a lack of discipline.
Ineffective Agile adoptions, including enterprise-scale transformations, can be traced to these same two causes. In fact, this applies to most things that we human beings don’t follow through on.
So why am I pointing out something so obvious and so universal?
Because I don’t want you to fail.
I don’t want you to run out and buy the Agile equivalent of a Treadmaster 9000 and a “Get Rich Tomorrow” home study course, only to find yourself sick and broke a year from now.
Is your organization holding onto collaboration-killing and throughput-throttling processes, based on the rationale that your business domain or product or technology mix is more complex than that of everybody else who is practicing Agile?
Is it shaving the sharp corners off the parts of Agile that are uncomfortable, either leaving gaps or replacing what was removed with something softer and more accommodating of the status quo?
True, successful Agile enterprises are continuously inspecting and tweaking how they do things. That’s how they get better. But they are tweaking the application of the fundamentals, not the fundamentals themselves.
Even “seasoned” Agile organizations plateau, and then seek out some advanced Agile concept or technique that is guaranteed to take them to the “next level”. But there is none.
No professional sports team’s coach says, at a post-loss press conference, “Well, we were just one or two trick plays away from winning this.” No, what they actually say is, “We didn’t execute on the fundamentals, and it cost us the game.”
The secret to Agile success is that there IS no secret. Success comes through relentless improvement in the application of a few fundamental concepts and values. Your situation isn’t the rare exception.
Yes, this can be challenging, especially when the impediments that need to be addressed are rooted high-up in the enterprise. If it was easy, every organization would be wildly successful, and lots of Agile consultants I know would be running Tilt-a-Whirls at carnivals all over this great country of ours.
But that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth the effort. If you want to succeed, you don’t really have a choice.