Agile Software Development Adoption Obstacles

I have just started reading the book “Succeeding with Agile” by Mike Cohn. Here are some quotes from the initial pages that deal with the difficulties of transitioning to Agile.

“I’ve personally witnessed several failed agile adoptions that could have been prevented. The first was in a company that had spent more than a million dollars on its transition effort. Executives brought in outside trainers and coaches and hired five people into an “Agile Office” to which new Scrum teams could turn for advice. The company’s failure was the result of thinking that the implications of adopting Scrum would be restricted to only the development organization. The executives who initiated this transition thought that educating and supporting developers would be sufficient. They failed to consider how Scrum would touch the work of salespeople, the marketing group, and even the finance department. Without changes to these areas, organizational gravity pulled the company back where it had started.”

“Perhaps you’ve read a book, on Extreme Programming and have decided that is the right approach for your company. Or maybe you attended a Certified ScrumMaster training course and think Scrum sounds good. Or maybe you read a book on a different agile process, and it sounds perfect for your organization.
In all likelihood, you’re wrong.
None of these processes as described by their originators is perfect for your organization. Any may be a good starting point, but you will need to tailor the process to more precisely fit the unique circumstances of your organization, individuals, and industry.”

“With most organizational change, after someone figures out the right or best way to do something, that way of doing it is captured as a ” best practice” and shared with everyone else. For some types of work, collecting and reusing best practices is a tremendous aid to the change effort. An organization that is selling a product to a new type of customer may, for example, capture best practices for overcoming objections from potential customers. When transitioning to Scrum, however, collecting best practices can be dangerous.”

What is interesting for me in these quotes is the emphasis on Agile being a process and not a technique. You can’t just apply existing recipes to your organization and think that you are “done”. You have to think on how you can spread the spirit of Agile in your organization and, when you think you are “done”, continue to try to improve your process every day. The same message is conveyed in a Karl Scotland article about Kanban that I am just reviewing and that will be included in the Summer 2010 issue of Methods & Tools. Another very interesting article by Yves Yves Hanoulle on Core Protocols will give you tools to support the improvement process.

Reference: “Succeeding With Agile”, Mike Cohn, Addison-Wesley, 463 pages, IBSN 978-0-321-57936-3

Methods & Tools articles on Agile adoption

Adopting an Agile Method

Agile Delivery at British Telecom

Creating an Agile Environment

Agile Coaching Tips

Five Symptoms of Mechanical Agile