Embracing and Evangelizing the Agile Culture

Making the transition to agile can either be smooth and enjoyable, or a long and tedious affair. To a large extent, the difference depends on how quickly and completely team members within the organization get behind the transformation and embrace the Agile culture.

Embracing Agile Culture

One of the keys to making this happen is to have leaders within the organization who take on the role of Agile evangelists, encouraging others to support the transformation by word and example.

How can you be that Agile evangelist?

Learn How to Respond to Typical Objections

The first step is to embrace the agile methodologies fully yourself. If your company is going agile, make it a point to learn as much about the agile methodology as you can early in the process. This will help you hit the ground running as changes are being implemented and objections arise, such as:

Common Objection:

Agile doesn’t allow us to plan.

Your Response:

It’s important to understand and communicate our vision across the entire organization so architecture and deliverables move forward together. It’s also important to remember that plans change. The organization will refine our definition of “Good Enough” over time, but we have to start somewhere; which may include painful lessons along the way. Spending too much time planning is a waste when the goal is to learn a lesson and move on. The plan improves as our knowledge does.

Common Objection:

Our culture doesn’t fit Agile.

Your Response:

We are in this together and need to communicate honestly and openly to adopt a new way of working as a team. At the root of Agile methodology is accountability at an individual and team level. As we begin to collaborate and understand the needs of each team, and team member, everyone will benefit from improved reporting, monitoring and delivery.

Common Objection:

Agile can’t provide adequate details for development.

Your Response:

Development using the Agile methodology allows for conversation, not just documentation. It opens up creative space for developers to built rapport and get regular feedback and validation on ideas. With Agile, developers work from an “agreed” upon plan that stems from collaboration between team members and decision-makers; rather than an “approved” requirements documentation that gets pushed along just because it has the right number of signatures.

Focus on the Benefits

Once you fully understand the agile framework and what it’s going to mean to your role, your team, and your workflow, focus on the benefits that will come from complete adoption. When you are convinced of the benefits involved in going agile, and you’re vocal about them, you can be a positive force for peace and change during the ongoing agile transformation.

Benefits to Customer:

High-value features are developed and delivered more quickly with short cycles, than with the longer cycles favored by classic “waterfall” processes.

Benefits to Vendors:

Vendors reduce waste by focusing development effort on high-value features, and reduce time-to-market relative to waterfall processes due to decreased overhead and in¬creased efficiency.

Benefits to Development Teams:

Scrum benefits team members by reducing non-productive work (e.g., writing specifi¬cations or other artifacts that no one uses), and giving them more time to do the work they enjoy. Team members also know their work is valued, because requirements are chosen to maximize value to customers.

Benefits to Product Managers:

Product Managers, who typically fill the Product Owner role, are responsible for mak¬ing customers happy by ensuring that development work is aligned with customer needs. Scrum makes this alignment easier by providing frequent opportunities to re-prioritize work, to ensure maximum delivery of value.

Benefits to Project Managers:

Project Managers who fill the ScrumMaster role find that planning and tracking are easier and more concrete, compared to waterfall processes. The focus on task-level tracking, the use of Burndown Charts to display daily progress, and the Daily Scrum meetings, all together give the Project Manager tremendous awareness about the state of the project at all times. This awareness is key to monitoring the project, and to catching and addressing issues quickly.

Benefits to PMOs and C-Level Executives:

Scrum provides high visibility into the state of a development project, on a daily basis. External stakeholders, such as C-Level executives and personnel in the Project Manage¬ment Office, can use this visibility to plan more affectively, and adjust their strategies based on more hard information and less speculation.

Of course, as in any transformation process, there is going to be a period when things don’t run as smoothly as you’d like, and there are likely going to be those in the organization who resist the changes required.

For instruction on how to develop the necessary skills to both embrace and evangelize agile as an Agile Coach, review the Agile Coaching webinar series. For a more personalized assessment and help within your organization, let our professional Agile Coaches help you.