If the teams could vault from novice to seasoned in a day, and if they were less affected by external political/organizational issues, they’d all do fine. The problem they have is getting to that point. That’s where they need the most help.George Dinwiddie responded:
Sometimes those external organizational issues are a part of the reason it takes so long to move from novice to seasoned. I’ve talked with organizations that want the benefits of Agile, but they don’t want to give up the cubes and solo development work. They don’t trust the team to self-organize and create valuable software, so they stick with organizational frameworks that prevent the very things they fear won’t happen.Michael Feathers added:
Elsewhere Brian mentions that perhaps we should leave larger organizational issues to others. We can, but if we do, we have to adjust expectations. Working with a single team in an organization is a bit like walking up to a person and saying "Let’s see what we can do to make your left leg as healthy as it can be." And, sure enough, there are things you can do. you can inject vitamins, chemicals to foster local growth.. develop an exercise regiment.The ‘others’ Brian refers to is the APLN , which was established specifically to engage with the industry to bring about change for agility.
You can do a lot for that leg, you can make the muscles bulge, increase its endurance, increase blood flow; but at the end of the day, the health of that leg is going to be sensitively dependent on the surrounding organization.
I think that when we work on the leg, we have to think about the body. If we don’t, we have to be less surprised when, at times, the leg does well for a while and degrades or the leg doesn’t respond as well as we wish.
Most of us have had success with individual teams. Some of us have had success with whole organizations. But, that link is there. If we look at execution through the lens of single teams, I think we’re missing something.
Earlier, in another thread touching on the same issue, I said:
Agility is not sustainable unless the larger organisation is compatible and supportive. More often than not, the larger organisation needs to change, otherwise agility exists inside a very fragile bubble within a hostile business environment. In my experience, agility has always failed due to larger organisation issues. I think it would be remiss of the Agile Alliance to leave the concerns with the larger organisation to others.Upon reflection we need to continue to invest in improving people, and their attitude and skills, at grassroots through bottom-up initiatives, and we must also help to effect cultural and organisational change from the top down. Nobody really disputes this. However, I believe that whatever we achieve at grassroots will not survive without holistic change in corporate thinking and structure and that can only be accomplished from the top. Only with a two-pronged strategy can we achieve sustainable and pervasive agility in industry.
The Agile Alliance needs to champion agility and the change required to support it within industries. Agility is never going to stick by supporting only bottom-up initiatives through teams. There needs to be a proactive strategy of engagement with industry, corporate business leaders and decision makers that challenges current thinking in organisations and aims to educate and dispel myths. Let’s start trying to gain executive support for agility and indirectly initiate top-down changes in organisations that nurture the adoption of agile methods.
If the Agile Alliance is to focus on one thing and the APLN on the other, I sincerely hope they can create a collaborative partnership to implement such a strategy so that things can get better for everyone.