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Presentation: "We Suck Less!" Is Not Enough


In this presentation filmed during Agile 2008, David Douglas and Robin Dymond discuss about companies which try to adopt Agile, but don't go all the way, resulting in failure and rejection of it, and predictably having a negative impact on Agile's future.

Watch: "We Suck Less!" Is Not Enough (1h 25 min)

According to a study made by Forrester in 2007, cited by David, “Many of these shops (companies adopting Agile) aren’t completely clear about what Agile adoption really entails.” Many adopting Agile companies are happy if they are doing "OK", which means a 50% productivity improvement. They are not aware they can have a 500% increase in productivity. David says the bar is set very low if our Agile adoption motto is "We suck less".

David says the current perception of Agile in the market today is:

  • Superior to current practice
  • Set of tools (major financial services firm)
  • Cheap, easy, and runs on its own (medical manufacturing company)
  • Project solution

Agile should be perceived as:

  • An entire work system
  • Designed for 5x+ productivity gains
  • Requires organizational redesign
  • Requires significant change management

Robin continues by giving several examples of large corporations which started doing Scrum at some point, but returned to the old waterfall approach. According to Robin, an important factor in Agile adoption failure is organizational structure which is not matching the development process.

David predicts Agile adoption failure cases will grow in the future and will have a negative impact on Agile. He recommends the following actions to be takes:

  • Recognize we have a problem and begin collaborating on a solution
  • Be transparent about levels of Agility
  • Create a clear position on what is Agile
  • Measure and quantify productivity and speed
  • Put organizational design on the Agenda

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Community comments

  • Thats true with everything in this field

    by Francois Ward,

    Your message is awaiting moderation. Thank you for participating in the discussion.

    The whole "take what we think is important, but don't go all the way" paradigm is omnipresent in the field, and is one of the major cause of project failures.

    Often, when new methodologies or technologies are introduced, there has been great in depth analysis of the potential pitfalls, and documentation on how to avoid them (often as part of the core methodology or tool or whatever). These are often ignored by teams as "not for us", "doesn't fit in our company", "people would never accept it", etc etc.

    So then all of the severe flaws of the methodology, tool, technology, API, whatever which were thought about in the planning stage, are left wide open, and the people blame the methodology. Its -always- like that.

  • Re: Thats true with everything in this field

    by Mike Funk,

    Your message is awaiting moderation. Thank you for participating in the discussion.

    Francois's experience mirrors my own. In the past 4 years, I've only seen Scrum implemented correctly twice. I suspect 90% of those companies using Scrum do so in name only.

  • Only large projects?

    by Rukshan Jayaratna,

    Your message is awaiting moderation. Thank you for participating in the discussion.

    I've been scanning around agile material. Most are very large projects. My company have turned out projects with 3-4 team members max, working for some times less than 2 months.

    Recently I've tested out a team where the team PM, was more "Agile Coach" role and the team consisted of a BA plus two developers. The result turned out good. No way of comparison, since from the start of the company we were into Agile.

  • Insights from presentation

    by Robin Dymond,

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    The challenge presented to executives and leaders in organizations is to recognize the fundamental organizational design issues that sustained Agile adoption requires. At the end of the presentation we work with the audience on an exercise to define what is "done" for an enterprise Agile adoption. Insightful discussion and ideas are presented, including from Steve Greene and members of the Salesforce R&D team.

    Innovel is a leading Scrum, Agile, and Lean training and consulting firm. Industry and academic contribution are core parts of our business. In addition to this presentation, Robin Dymond presented a new training simulation that has been made available at no charge to companies and consultants training businesses to use Agile methods.

    Robin Dymond, CST

    Managing Partner, Innovel

    Assistant Producer Learning and Education Stage Agile 2008

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