Sunday, May 29, 2016

Agile Anti-patterns


Agile is another term that everybody uses for whatever they're doing, in some cases with good reason, in other cases with nothing like it.  I have seen a lot of companies trying to be Agile, and I have this advice for some of the anti-patterns I've seen:

Managers using scrum as a status meeting

A scrum is supposed to be about the team self-directing and helping each other.  If the manager dominates the discussion and uses the meeting for their own purposes, this can often be lost and the unique energizing effect of proper scrum is lost.  If you haven't tried doing this by the book, try it for a sprint or two and you'll see the difference.

Management drivers that don't keep track of their stories

Another really major point of Agile process is that management and business minds stay engaged in the process, making sure what's getting done is what they understood was getting done - that's the most important point that makes Agile worth doing.  If the managers that own a narrative decide they're too busy to keep tabs on it, this key element dies out and the project can head off track.

Stories that don't motivate the management

One good description of how to write a good story is: keep asking "why do you want that" until you finally reach a business driver: cost savings, profit, something like that.  If you let stories be too abstract they don't have enough punch to keep business people motivated and you get the problem immediately above.

Agile is flexible enough that you can benefit from pretending you're doing it, without actually having any good idea what it is, but it's better when you know why you're doing it and make sure you get the benefits it is good at delivering.

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