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Corporate Agile Challenges Demystified

I worked on my first official(recognised as an agile project by Project Stakeholders) Agile project in 2006.  I was an Architect whilst still getting my hands dirty in code, POC’s etc. Leading up to the project, I dabbed with various agile constructs in isolation and was excited to finally have the buy-in at the “right” levels for the project to succeed. Several aspects grabbed my interest and gained adoption at the time that included The Agile Manifesto, Test Driven Development, Model Driven Development etc. After 9 beta releases on the project, several sprints and production grade software with only 2 defects in the black book, it seemed like I had found the silver bullet!

Fast forward to 2014 and Blue Chip(and other tiers) organisations struggle to gain traction on Agile Software Development. What has gone wrong? Well, nothing! … to an extent … The apt question is rather   …What has not changed?

We know the buzz words, we know what agile means in definition, the IT Execs have signed on the dotted line and the developers have rolled up their sleeves to cut code and Hot-Deploy!  However, we not getting high quality, predictable, working software as quick as we thought we would … Stakeholders are more frustrated than they were during “waterfall” projects and Customers(Business Stakeholders) are left wondering what’s the value proposition of Agile. From my experience consulting on various projects over the years, I have identified common patterns that contribute to failed or Lazy Agile Projects, as I have coined the experience. Most of these experiences occurred within the Financial Services or Telco verticals.

Organisations embracing Agile are stepping in the right(Time to Market, Business Agility) direction, however internal change is required for Agile projects to see real value. The biggest downfall is the under-estimation of the collaboration that is required by delivery teams that aim to deliver the sales pitch sold to IT Execs. Second(Numbered List of Agile Challenges) to this, is the Utopia Mandate that consulting companies or Agile Teams believe they will have once they get the green line to execute agile projects. Third, going into a sprint figuring out the real requirement. Fourth, a serious disconnect of what working software means. Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, Eighth … The list goes on … Ooh,  don’t forget the Production Executive that will block your deployment!

We have had to rescue and collaborate on several projects. Organisations that were prepared to make practical and unconventional (but conventional to the lean world) changes to accommodate the structural, process and delivery changes required, have adapted well and have seen the real value of Agile. We continue to advocate Lean Start Up Principles and Agile Principles to organisations that take Business Agility serious. It’s a journey that we need we collectively need to embark on to deliver the real value to our customers and users!

In Summary, The Problem: Squeezing the Agile Circle into the Organisation Triangle. The Solution:  Become a Lean Start Up!

PS: Look out for future posts where I deconstruct the Numbered List of Agile Challenges.