Finding your place on the Agile Spectrum

Agile adoption is a spectrum. Even within a company there are usually teams that are more advanced or collaborative than other teams.  Moving from one end of the spectrum to the other is not easy or cheap. It takes dedicated, sustained effort and skilled practitioners who are able to experiment, measure, and adapt practices. It takes a mindset that understands their will be missteps and failures and that every change involves a J curve.

Too often I hear about companies that are interested in going Agile or may have already implemented some practices and now want to implement the "Spotify model" or copy the "Toyota way". While admirable in their ambition, I have yet to hear of a company that has done it successfully. Why?

The biggest hurdle to applying something that was successful at another company is the fact that you are not that other company. This isn't bad, it's just that your employees, culture, managers, executive team, experiences, and products are different. This is particularly true when looking to take the practices of a manufacturing company, such as Toyota, and apply it to software development.

Next is the fact that no company that is currently successful with their Agile or Lean practices started out with those practices. Each organization went through periods of pain, followed dead-ends and found tweaks that eventually led to their success.  

Even once they are successful, these are organizations that continue to tweak beyond what has been documented. In fact, they may very well have abandoned, at least in part, some of what they once promoted.

Not all companies can be Hunter Industries running Mob Programming teams that work all day every day. Even for Hunter it can be a struggle at times, but what you can do is start to discover the little tweaks and the continuous improvement that works for you.

Try a Mob during a hackathon or when tackling a tough problem, start a tribe for your Scrum Masters and see how it feels, or review your planning to see if there is waste in the process that can be eliminated. Find your place on the Agile Spectrum without worrying that you need to be the Agile envy of the world, just try and be a little bit better than you are and then do that again.