It’s Not Agile That Doesn’t Work, It’s How It’s Being Implemented


I wasn’t always so strong in my beliefs that agile methods provide the blueprint for successful initiatives, but time and time again, I’ve seen how its adoption can make positive impacts on teams and their results.

In my previous article, I stated that agility is no longer optional in business. Now I’m going to take things a step further and say that a past negative experience or lack of understanding of agile is no longer an excuse to delay getting started.

If you or someone you know has said something like “we tried agile and it didn’t work,” I have a simple response. If it didn’t work, you weren’t doing it right, or you weren’t using it for the right projects or to solve the right problem.

In this article, I’m going to discuss some of the things to consider if adopting agile approaches for your marketing, engineering, customer experience, IT, or other team isn’t working as well as it could. If you are already skeptical that anything can help, I’m sorry to say, it’s not agile, it’s you. Let’s see why.

Is Everyone On Board With Agile?

Let’s start by gauging the room to see what people’s preconceived notions are about agile and how open they are to going “all in” on it.

As an example, you could have the most enthusiastic Scrum Master possible on your team, but if the product team has some naysayers or those who simply don’t follow through or understand what needs to get done, you are going to have challenges. Sometimes this is a matter of education or coaching, and sometimes this is a matter of team dynamics and culture. Determine what is the cause and deal with it accordingly.

Even experienced agile team members can benefit from a knowledge refresh from time to time, but find ways to make learning beneficial for everyone. If your challenges come down to a team member that is a bad fit for the team, this unfortunately may mean you need to drop them in order for the team to thrive.

To work best, agile requires a commitment from the entire team. With everyone on board, the benefits of teamwork and collaboration that agile principles embrace will enable the most success.

Related Article: Agility Is No Longer Optional in Business

Are You Taking Shortcuts?

With the full team on board with agile approaches and practices, now it is time to make sure that you and your team are following through and following your processes consistently.

Doing things right is most critical when things are stressful, when there are tight deadlines, and the stakes are high. These are never reasons to abandon process, and if you think you don’t have time to do so, just think about all of the time it takes to invent a brand new way of doing things and explain it to all of the parties involved!

Whatever your reasons or your team members’ excuses, taking shortcuts is never the right approach. In the end, it will cause you more work, and in the moment, you are undermining your commitment to a common way of collaborating, creating and improving: agile.

Related Article: Growing Beyond Agile: Adaptability for Today’s Marketing Landscape

Are You Actively Trying to Improve?

Finally, let’s talk about a sometimes-overlooked aspect of agile, particularly by those that are skeptical about its benefits or who have had a less-than-positive experience in the past. This critical aspect is continuous improvement, which also happens to be one of my personal favorite parts of successful agile implementations.

After all, agile is built on the idea that incremental work, incremental improvements and collaborative team efforts combine to create better outcomes.

The incremental nature of this means that without a commitment to continuous improvement, you and your team are not going to fully benefit from all that agile can offer you. Keep in mind that this improvement includes the projects and initiatives you are delivering as well as the tools and methods you are using to deliver them. Continuous improvement needs to include both of these to deliver stellar results.

As you can see, the difference between success with agile and a disillusioned team can come down to team alignment, ensuring everyone is actively participating and a commitment to continuously improving the work and how it’s done.



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