Are we AgileFall?

The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.
F. Scott Fitzgerald

Organizations are like people. They are all unique. Having two children I have learned how different they can be. Our oldest daughter enjoys quiet time in her room. Then our son is loud and boisterous. You hear him coming a mile away. Similar to these kids are organizations agile adoption. You can have the same training and the processes look quite different.


In the agile manifesto, it starts with “Individuals and interactions over processes and tools.” I find it disheartening when I see teams that claim to be agile but have little to no interaction. People work relatively isolated. It is more akin to the waterfall team where one person does development and throws it over the wall to a tester. We hope they could collaborate on testing. I have seen this not to be the case.


We want to focus on working software over comprehensive documentation. Still, though there are organizations that cling to the mountains of documentation. A friend of mine works with a large organization in the midwest that castigated him as he tried to fix something before the documentation had been updated. I guess they didn’t get the memo. I doubt anyone is reading all of that.


“Customer collaboration over contract negotiation.” I like to point this line out teams and groups that get belligerent about wanting agile adoption. It reminds me of the old idiom, “you can catch more bees with honey than vinegar.” Making agile a club you want to beat over someone’s head is too ironic. How can you sell the values? Perhaps a more responsive organization is appealing.


The hallmark of an agile team is the ability to respond to change. Or as they say in the Agile Manifesto, “Responding to change over following a plan.” One person I first worked with in my agile journey said, “they think agile means they can do whatever they want.” Scrum has a process to allow for change. Our old waterfall system did not allow for the requirements to change. This was a common concern with leaders, “how can we become more responsive.”


For teams that straddle the agile world and the scrum world, they get a lot of questions about when something will be complete. This is usually followed by some line about if I am going to pay for this I need to know when it is done. We don’t need to discuss how poorly we are with estimates again. This has brought on the whole #NoEstimates movement in agile. We don’t estimate well. Period. End of discussion.

Sprint Length

I have read numerous postings about the importance of sprint length consistency. Although you hear stories from people who worked on teams where the length kept changing. This seems like someone trying to cheat the day and taking a few hours from the next day. The consistency helps drive the team cadence so they develop a repeatable cycle. I would hope this is a beginner’s error that someone would learn quickly.

Assigned Work

The literature talks about self-directed teams. I still see teams where someone assigns people to work. This seems like a waterfall leftover. I guess to some the idea of letting people choose is just too much to fathom. What bad thing could this lead to? Perhaps people could care more about the quality of their work. We just can’t have that!


The idea of working software is lost on some people. We work for a two-week iteration but, have nothing to show for it. It would see if this is the case we are not breaking the work down appropriately. Along with this, there may not be any testing done during the sprint too. People continue working as though they are on a waterfall project with the bi-weekly sprint planning and retro. The sprint planning involves carrying over most things since we don’t get any deliverables from the sprint.

Maybe you have never encountered any of these challenges. Your agile team is working great. I just would like to make you aware of some of the struggles teams encounter. The agile manifesto is a good starting place. The wisom it has can help guide you and your team.

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