Introducing Agile

Your company is thinking about the best way to introduce Agile. Here is my thoughts on the best way to do it. I think there are two keys to a successful implementation especially if you have been in the waterfall for awhile. I know what you are thinking…

“We just make the switch to agile and move forward.”

I have done that without much success. That could have been us but we had your usual bell curve of people. Your top performers will naturally gravitate towards Agile and will adapt quickly in my experience. But there will be resistance for a variety of reasons and possibly from your higher performers if they feel that waterfall is what got them recognized.

Pilot

You need to provide ammunition for your Agile evangelists. The single best way to do that is to have a team successfully doing Agile and talking about how great it is. It is like a gift that keeps on giving. The team is happy, product is improving and shipping faster, transparency is up. All good things! This becomes infectious. The team starts talking with people who are not in the Agile team and saying how much they like it. Management and especially senior management is happy because they really know what is happening (assuming they are paying attention but that is another blog post) and the top features are showing up every two-three weeks.

Not only is it infectious, but it undermines the neigh naysayers at the same time. When they say it cannot be done — and trust me they will — you just point at the functioning team and say maybe not.

Training

“I don’t need any training to understand Agile. It is incredibly straightforward. I read some Web sites and bought a couple of books.”

Well, I can say that is a great start. It will give you a decent foundation. But I would ask you would you want someone to perform a tracheotomy on you after reading a web site or two? I thought not. I think understanding the framework is actually very easy. Christ, the manifesto is twelve steps er I mean principles. It is not the PMBOK now is it… In my experience, the change experience is much, much harder without training. Training is invaluable if you get the whole team to take the training. I have been very lucky to have participated in several classes with two great instructors. One did CSM and senior management training and the other did CSM and CSPO training. I was in almost all of these classes and engagement was very high and people left the training very excited.

The best part of training is level setting everyone and getting them away from work for a couple of days to focus on the framework. We also split up the pilot group and put one at each table in the CSM training and it helped calm the naysayers and those who are less engaged.

Even better is getting senior management involved in a shorter, simpler version of the training. Then everyone is using the same terminology. You don’t have to explain to senior management what a burndown chart is or where their EVM charts went.