Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Agile Enthusiasts and Professionals

Beware the agile enthusiast who has only worked on one project at a time and does not get why the enterprise doesn't get Agile. Enterprise Agile often fails because Agile enthusiasts do not really understand it either.

I distinguish here "agile enthusiasts" from true agilist professionals who absolutely do get the issues around Agile at scale, indeed I defer absolutely to their vast experience.  You know who they are.  I hope not to offend the many others who fall into that category by naming those I've had the most interaction with and therefore admire tremendously include David Anderson, Ron Jeffries and Jeff Sutherland.   How do you tell the enthusiast from the true professionals? Ask them a couple of questions:

deer in headlights
  • Where did the money came from to do their agile project in the first place?
  • Where did the themes and epics came from?  Do we really rely solely on the product manager's brilliance?
  • Where did the networks come from that you're going to build your solution on?
Deer in the headlights [sorry for not attributing, but the hosting page didn't either].

The question isn't really why enterprises won't adopt agile; the real question is why agile enthusiasts don't understand some key things:
  • the processes at work in their own enterprise
  • how their projects came to be in the first place
  • how to fit their little piece of the world into a bigger picture. 
Here's a post that explains how Agile fits very well into the enterprise - if you understand how both of them work. Understanding one and not the other leads to misunderstandings and outright hostility.  Not unlike the rest of the world.

They are  not alone, of course; lots of people on the more traditional side of project, portfolio and program management don't understand it either.  Which is why I write this blog.

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