I had passed my LeSS practitioner certification, and it made me think about the Agility transformation sins 90% of the companies make.

I really like the fact that this training focuses on the mindset and the fact that many organizations want to be labeled Agile and do large Scrum processes and why they failed.

What is large scrum about?

Agile development is hard to be implemented in many organizations. There are a lot of reasons for it. Unfortunately, organizations don’t have a lot of time to achieve digital transformation. There are many competitors waiting to take market share and a piece of the pie. That’s why the organizations are trying to embrace agility. But what would happen if organization which don’t run good Scrum, scales it and implement scrum for 8+ teams, working together on a product backlog? Most probably a disaster. And we can see it in many organizations, which means that Agility transformation sins are a widespread issue.

But what would happen if organization which don’t run good Scrum, scales it?

Aleks Vladimirov

I had taken part in many Agile meetup events where it’s more common organizations, and by organizations I mean Scrum Masters who work for companies, to share their issues and to ask for help.

The amount of success stories is not so many.

There is still a big stigma for companies even to accept that they have issues related to organization, effectiveness and structure. I know many people who join companies, because they want to work in Agile environment, just to find out that under the fancy names, the companies are actually working with legacy ideas, processes and systems (waterfall).

This doesn’t mean that waterfall development should be completely killed. But at least the company should be honest upfront with their current philosophy and focus.

In the next part you will learn what is the first sin, companies do when adopting Agility and reasoning behind it.

Re-branding positions

Brand is an important concept in the business world. It creates familiarity and safety. “Just do it” – we link immediately this sentence to a brand and all of us can fill the gap.

And now think about it and try to answer for yourself. Name one brand that:

  • that represents the safest car?
  • is a cheap and convenient furniture?
  • is worldwide famous soft-drink?

You can even make it as a game and play it with your colleagues.

This law of familiarity plays a huge role in the Agility transformation.

One easy solution that they try to adopt is to take their current environment and teams and re-brand them as Agile. And it is so easy. If you are a manager, maybe you were part of this practice and being labeled as a Scrum Master without any formal training or tool changes.

Business analysts suddenly become product owners.

Managers become scrum masters. How about architects? The company invents a special department or working group and puts them there and demands the other teams to interact with those teams.

Based on many experiments and shared stories, this doesn’t work.

You can teach an old dog new tricks

One of the reasons why re-branding is one of the top Agility transformation sins, is the obscurity the assurance the company has. At least in the past, the enemy was clear, and it was easy to have a solution, introducing different development process or framework.

But business analyst will never do the things product owners are supposed to do, because the company had already invested a lot of effort in creating these processes and someone in the organization needs to read those reports. And most probably this someone is at the very top of the chain hierarchy.

Possible solution for the Agile transformation sin

Agility means speed. The company must adopt transparency as a core value and eliminate the overhead related to unnecessary reporting or other activities which are not related to delivering value to the end customer.

One possible way to achieve it is as adopting growth mindset by understanding that the positions must change and not only giving new hats to the old faces. No matter if it’s a manager, business analyst or architect, or security experts, they must be integrated in a “new organization” where the collaboration and the focus on delivering value are in sync with the values of transparency, adapting and inspection.

You can check out the LeSS framework which is designed to support such transformation. The downside is that it takes a lot of time to move big organizations to it.

The path is long and if you want to start with the transformation, you could use a solid goal setting approach, this article might be a useful start.

Aleks Vladimriov is a Senior Software Developer, recognized Project Manager and Soft-skilled trainer and a coach.

Aleks Vladimirov

Solution Engineering Manager at Thales | Senior IT Professional | Startup Mentor and Product Manager

Aleks is experienced Product Manager with an engineer background and over 10 years of experience as a software developer. He works with different governments and is responsible for negotiation features and requirements, understanding the customers’ needs and supporting the senior management with regular reports and analysis. He held various positions starting as a software developer, moving to a team leader and software architect.

He strives in waterfall and agile environment alike. He is certified Scrum Master and Prince2 Practitioner and he knows how to design business processes and help teams optimize their work.
During his tenure, he had to wear many hats, prioritizing business requirements, delegating work and mentoring team members, creating mockups with Balsamiq, providing MS Project plan to the senior management.

He had worked in many international teams, located in the same city or distributed in different countries and continents. He had been a team leader of cross functional international team of 8 people.

In his current position, he is very much client focused. He has excellent presentation skills.
He delivers training sessions on presentation skills and leadership and he had helped hundred of people to improve their presentation skills.

He is also interested in creating more positive changes in the workplace by using entrepreneurship skills.
He had won startup competition where his team had validated and develop a business idea from scratch.

In his free time, he writes in his blog about effective product development.

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