I had the opportunity to speak with a fellow motorcyclist recently. Over the course of an hour or so, he recounted the number of times he purposely “Laid it down” (biker parlance for intentional crashing) to avoid a much worse fate (e.g., hitting a deer, road debris, etc.). As I listened, I marveled at why this individual preferred crashing his Harley to practicing crash avoidance skills that might have prevented some of the outcomes he experienced.
When I asked him if he practiced emergency braking and swerving, he scoffed at the idea. “Real riders don’t worry about stuff like that,” he said. I sat amazed at this individual’s defense of a rigid and inflexible way of handling road hazards.
The man’s limp and tales of broken bones told the story. The (not so) funny thing about this anecdote is that we (team members, product owners, and even scrum masters) can sometimes be guilty of the same inflexibility while telling ourselves we’re “Real riders.”
Agile is as its name suggests; however, in practice, the principles of Agile sometimes get sidestepped while retaining the name. This is what has been referred to as “FrAgile Methodology.” Rather than a satisfied customer and a healthy team morale, FrAgile teams reap unnecessary pain and fractured expectations.
In a recent blog post, Mike Cohn stated that “Without standards of excellence for agile, anyone can call anything agile.” I tend to agree. While Agile may be difficult to fit in a box, it’s easy to recognize when the elements of Agile aren’t in place. The following might be indicators that your team isn’t adhering to Agile:
Only one way forward (all the time)
Low team morale
High attrition rate
Parking lot full of crashed Harleys
The more rigid an organizational structure becomes, the more hindered its teams will be. Agile should not lead to fragility, but should empower teams to create independently in an iterative framework. Anything less just isn’t Agile.
WHAT’S YOUR TAKE?
How might Agile be better leveraged on your team?
What are you doing to proactively address FrAgility?