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What Constitutes A High-Quality Agile Transition?

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In a number of blog postings, members of the Agile community offer their perspectives on what constitutes a high-quality transition to Agile methods within an organization.

Esther Derby makes a case for applying Agile methods to the Agile transition process itself. According to Derby, an Agile transition is often best managed by applying typical Agile strategies such as learning and adapting, embracing Agile values, and understanding at a deep level how the organization's work is actually done. She writes:

Deterministic planning fails with complex software systems, and it fails with organizational change. Organizations are far too complex, and we need to plan for adaptation, learning, and the fact that the organization will be changing as the plan unfolds.

What are the signs that an Agile transformation is going well? According to Haim Deutsch, a successful Agile organization can be characterized by a number of emotional indicators. These indicators include:

  • team members feeling focused on their tasks
  • team members becoming more conscious of how they spend their time
  • team members feeling proud of their team
  • testers feeling fully accepted by the team
  • team members and product owners feeling closer to each other
  • ScrumMasters feeling proud of their team's accomplishments
  • team members, product owners, and ScrumMasters feeling more conscious of their capabilities, responsibilities, strengths, and weaknesses

Supposing that an Agile transition doesn't appear to be going well, however, how can it be repaired? Henrik Kniberg offers these steps as one possible remediation path for problems found while implementing Scrum:

  1. Check whether Scrum is being done wrong. If so, try doing Scrum correctly instead, and see whether that fixes the problem.
  2. Check whether the problem is an underlying problem that is just being exposed by Scrum, rather than a problem with the Scrum process itself. For an underlying problem, try addressing the causes of the problem rather than changing Scrum.
  3. Give the team time to execute a few sprints and learn from them. The team may solve the problem themselves.
  4. If the previous items provide no relief, adapt Scrum to mitigate or resolve the problem.
  5. If the problem still persists after adaptation, then perhaps Scrum isn't well-suited for this application. Another process may be better in this situation.

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