The real issue with Agile at the moment

I think the real issue with Agile at the moment is the way in which it is often / almost always “rolled out”. Which is through implementing the standard scrum ceremonies in a fixed X week sprint process. So those naturally creative individuals who are working within this rigid framework find it restrictive, not necessarily aligned with value generation, and just simply boring at times.

I say this having recently run a Scrum Master community of practice and seen for myself the high rate of Scrum Master burnout and turnover within this digital programme. Funnily enough, one management objective quickly imposed on this self-initiated community trying to better support each other, was to address and seek ways to retain Scrum Master talent.

I also say this, recalling an agile team I worked in years ago (before the “agile” term was used) who insisted on improving the *PROCESS* at the end of each and every sprint, with the daily standup board being literally “torn down”; so the actual ceremonies, and how they were run and how often etc were modified in the pursuit of continuous improvement. I’ve not seen this done anywhere since, in fact changing the process is often not even considered and/or seen as taboo. So Scrum Masters essentially just end up overseeing a fixed process.

I really do wonder if there is some future tipping point waiting for everyone, when enough agile transformation programmes do not deliver as expected and the management consulting industry finally twigs on to this. Is the current agile movement (whether vanilla Scrum, process standardisation around Jira / Confluence / Slack, Scrum at Scale, SAFe etc) going to become tarred in the same way that ITIL and latterly the excellent but much misunderstood PRINCE2 (unfortunately through no fault of its own) approaches have become???

I’m sincerely interested in any comments, views or thoughts on the above. It’s a topic I’ve thought about a lot over the last year or so, as the future of agile transformation programmes and agile ways of working are still yet to be decided. I’d like to contribute positively to the the status quo somehow, beyond just writing about the problems I see.


Frank Ray

Did you know successful projects depend upon healthy relationships between the people involved? Trust, honesty and openness are required so that problems and issues can be frankly discussed and nipped in the bud. This is how we conduct business at Frank Ray & Associates, a software engineering consultancy I founded. You can also reach me directly at info@frankray.net

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