Over the last few years, agile has been gaining more popularity and traction across various industries and domains. This is good. It is allowing for more dialog on difficult topics such as employee empowerment, setting a unified goal, team over individual, and connecting to our customers. However, this quick growth of agile is causing many challenges in what we believe it is and how we come to use it. With all of this in mind, here are the most common agile myths that we accept and how to break free of them.
Agile Myth #1: Agile is The Reason for the Project
For some reason we take a set of values and principles and turn it into a movement, a way of working. This “Agile” is causing plenty of harm since we now create initiatives and projects around doing agile and then wonder why it fails. Agile was never meant to be a new project management approach (even we turned it into one) that senior management can have as an alternative to the more traditional (waterfall) approach to project management. It seems that once we get excited by attending a conference, participating in a training, or reading a book we like to lock onto this new idea and run full steam ahead.
Advice: Go back to the values and principles of agile and get to know why the founders of the Agile Manifesto created the document the way that they did. Then start looking for the real reason that an initiative or project needs to exist (such as improve customer experience or reduce mistakes in our system) so that the entire group can shoot for this ultimate goal. Once this is clear, then determine if the agile values and principles would aid in the endeavour.
Agile Myth #2: Agile is Scrum
Since Scrum is the most popular of the agile frameworks, we tend to believe that agile is the same as Scrum. This is not the case. Agile is set of values and principles whereas Scrum is framework of roles, ceremonies, and artifacts. Agile doesn’t tell you how to move forward or what elements to use. Scrum is a framework with elements that give you cadences, agreements for each of the ceremonies, defined timeframes to complete work, individual roles for increased focus, and artifacts to display to the team and those around it.
Advice: Start with learning about the differences between the Agile Manifesto and The Scrum Guide. Then do some research about some of the other Agile Frameworks to understand their strengths and limitations.
Agile Myth #3: Agile Will Solve Your Problems
We add agile to our strategy as a way to solve our problems. We take on agile initiatives, we force people to adopt an agile framework, we hire agile coaches (like me), and we create plenty of marketing material with agile plastered all over it. Does this work? No.
Advice: Stop using agile as a silver bullet. Instead, use the agile mindset and a framework as a way to get closer to your actual goal. Each of the frameworks (such as Scrum or Kanban) are great at helping people see problems, but acting on them is up to you.
Some Concluding Thoughts
What other myths ail your company? What misconceptions would you like the clear up? What myths have you overcome and what did you do to accomplish this?
I hope that each of you continue to bring light and love to those around as I continue to strive in doing this each and every day.
Paul J. Heidema