Quote on this page: remark from a (reluctant) colleague: "If we should start with DevOps today, then we should hire other employees 2 years ago" Yes he is right, but he is talking about the chiefs not about the employees who will be in the teams. My experience is that the teams loves this DevOps way of working within a few sprints. It is a huge culture change on management level.
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You will not become agile by implementing scrum
Agile CIO: future-proof your organization
Many companies have implemented scrum. It has become the industry standard for software development. However, many companies struggle to achieve the expected benefits. They will never become truly agile. How come?
Agile and scrum are often mentioned together. By doing scrum you’re supposed to be able to do twice the work in half the time. This allows for faster innovation and the ability to quickly respond to market changes, enabling agility. For the executive team, this is a dream that comes true.
Management orders a scrum pilot. The newly formed scrum teams start enthusiastically and with dedication. Unfortunately they fail to fulfill the high expectations and often the resulting situation is even worse than before. The pilot fails and agile gets the blame. What is overlooked is that by implementing scrum, you will not automatically become agile.
Scrum, but not agile
Just implementing scrum in your software development department is not enough to become truly agile. Many companies ignore the necessary changes in company culture, management style, processes and way of executing projects.
Scrum is a method, agile is a mindset.
Management kills innovation
Changing a company’s culture starts by changing the way management operates. Oftentimes the top-down and command and control style of management perseveres alongside scrum. When something fails, management demands an explanation and looks for the person that can be blamed. Processes are therefore designed to prevent failures by implementing many formal checkpoints. Before you’re allowed to do something you have to deliver detailed documents to the right departments to get a stamp of approval. Because employees are not encouraged to go beyond these boundaries, innovation and agility gets killed.
Projects on top of scrum
Together with the old company culture, plan-driven project management also perseveres. A project only gets approved when management can be convinced that they will get value for money. Delivering on time and within the budget and predefined scope is still expected. In a scrum organisation, this will result in a project manager having to negotiate with the product owners and scrum masters. Scope is often defined as an expected deliverable, instead of achieving a business goal. The mandate for the product owner to decide how a business goal can be achieved is very limited. Pressure will quickly build when the deadline is no longer feasible, for example due to new insights. The team is requested to work throughout nights and weekends to meet the deadline, resulting in shortcuts in quality.
By combining waterfall with scrum, a situation is created that is even less efficient and effective than the old situation.
Only by letting go of old habits and working methods, agility can be achieved.
What does an agile company culture look like? It starts with a basis of trust. Management trusts that the best solutions emerge from having the right people collaborate with each other. People are given the trust and freedom to autonomously explore ideas and solutions, without needing to ask for permission. It’s no problem if something fails. Failure and learning from failure is encouraged, because experimenting and failing are the prerequisites for innovation.
To enable agility, decision making power and responsibility should be implemented at the lowest possible level in an organization, ie. in a scrum team. If people are allowed to do what they think is best for the company, they will take ownership. Management steers only through communicating strategic priorities and (measurable) business goals. Scrum teams are trusted to figure out for themselves how to achieve these goals.
Managers become servant leaders and will only work on tasks that teams cannot solve themselves.
Transforming to agile
A company cannot become agile by just implementing scrum in the IT department. If management expects scrum to solve all their problems, it will become a big disappointment, unless they are prepared to address the preconditions. Transforming to agile is often a big shift that requires a lot of change.
Traditional vs. agile companies: the biggest differences
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