Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Story of Agile and the Band-Aid

I have stepped into my 12th year of  practicing Agile methods. Started with XP before embracing Scrum, Lean, Kanban.  I nearly thought we found some solution, but looks like we still have some more things to do.  Even now, organizations are looking at Agile as a silver bullet without fixing the root causes.



Here is the issue, the  issue is Agile was born mostly to banish the problems coming out of the Waterfall model. If you don’t believe me, have a look at the manifesto (screen shot on the left),  everything on the right side is all about the waterfall way of working.  Whether it is the overreliance on Tools, Processes or documentation.   Everything on the left hand side is supposed to be the Agile way of working.  There is nothing wrong with it,  but it is applying the band aid on the issues coming from the right hand side.  It looks like there was too much focus on solving the problems coming out of waterfall rather than the focusing on software delivery. I see that Agile ended up becoming just a band aid.


Why Agile is just a band  Aid ?

Couple of years ago, when every one was overwhelmed with the project failures applying the waterfall model, people wanted to get rid of this problem. Instead of fixing the problem, people started applying the band aids against the bruises, and the problem stayed back.   In the above analogy, the waterfall was more like a bruise, and it was not the real problem. 

As we know, the band aid would reduce the bleeding and provide some short term relief.  However band aid won’t stop the accidents from happening again. 

What is the real problem ?

I see that the issues that was bothering the business and development community couple of years ago was much bigger than just the waterfall.  The issues were org structure, leadership styles, complexity of the problems, etc. Waterfall was just a tip of the iceberg.  Even now, half of the Agile projects are going through a lot of struggles, and it has been proven repeatedly that  Organizational culture and communication issues are the key reasons for failed Agile projects. (See other issues in the screen shot below)


Once again, we need to remember that Agile is not going to fix the company philosophy, Agile is not going to improve the communications.  Agile, Lean and Kanban are all the band aids. The cultural issues and organizational philosophy issues, communication issues are like the accidents that keep happening and causing scratches again and again.
Unless we fix those issues, no matter what methodology we follow, the projects end up with failures and teams continue to stress out.  

You can keep applying the band aid but how long ?

It is important for delivery experts to focus more on fixing the accidents rather than keep applying the band aids.

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