The Scrum methodology of agile software development marks a dramatic departure from waterfall management. In fact, Scrum and other agile processes were inspired by its shortcomings. The Scrum methodology emphasizes communication and collaboration, functioning software, and the flexibility to adapt to emerging business realities — all attributes that suffer in the rigidly ordered waterfall paradigm.
One of the most common refrains in the agile and Scrum industry is that implementing those new processes is both hard and disruptive. By now, no one should be surprised to find out that there’s pain in changing—especially in situations in which groups of people are asked to dramatically revise the way they’ve always worked. But in an InfoQ story by Vikas Hazrati, Dave Nicolette reveals his experiences with Scrum and agile adoption, which suggest that a successful transformation is even harder than we all thought.
Many consider the creation of a single, functioning Scrum pilot team to be the big hump to get over during initial implementation. But according to Nicolette, that doesn’t necessarily mean an organization is out of the woods. As he explains, it’s not uncommon for a pilot team to be broken up to begin additional teams, which can often undermine the chemistry of the original team and fail to translate throughout the organization. In other scenarios, a pilot team may simply revert to old habits as soon as an on-site consultant leaves.
In Nicolette’s view, the two main reasons that pilots fail to stick at an organization are:
- “Local process optimization – The pilot teams were separate from rest of the organization. They were working in isolation from rest of the organization and as soon as the pilot was over that ripple in the ocean faded away. The changes were carried on too much at a local level to cause any amount of friction in rest of the organization.
- “Insensitivity to emotional factors – The consultants ignored the support of individuals and departments who would have been instrumental in the sustained success of the effort. As a result of this as soon as the consultants left, these support groups rallied together to get into the earlier way of working.”
That’s some good food for thought—and possibly a way to help your pilot team lead the entire organization toward a successful Scrum or agile adoption.
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