Unexpected Allies – the users

I’ve been working on an Agile (Scrum) transformation at my company for about a year now.  I knew that most of the developers here were ready for a little more structure around how code is written, tested and delivered.  I expected the team members to be fairly welcoming, but for some reason, I’d planned on the users and stakeholders being somewhat resistant to the change.  I’m not really sure why I felt that way; I likely didn’t think about it as much as I should have.

It turns out I was completely wrong.

Part of our plan was to take small steps in our roll-out of Scrum across development teams and make sure that we are able to demonstrate benefits before moving on.  My hope was that as developers, users and customers had positive experiences, the word would start getting out.  It turns out that it’s working just as I’d planned, and as I’m starting to hear the buzz in the back-channels, the biggest accolades are coming from users.

The biggest change they say they’re experiencing is with the level of involvement and ownership they’re feeling.  The users love the fact that they can understand the user stories that are being written.  They like being able to help set acceptance criteria to make sure what is being delivered is what they need to get their jobs done.  Project owners and stakeholders like the fact that requirements are being broken down into smaller components than they’re used to.  This is helping them understand what is being built and how much work is really involved in delivering each feature.

They’re enjoying transparency.

I had planned on meeting with users and stakeholders who would be impacted by our Scrum teams at some nebulous point in the future.  It seems that I need to rethink that idea, and start going out into the user community much sooner.  Like tomorrow.  Time to get some training time scheduled!

I’ll write more later about how that goes.

Vienna Service Design Jam 2012” by _dChris is licensed under CC BY 2.0 / Cropped from original

Agile Transformation – Just Keep Swimming… Just Keep Swimming…

Regal Tang - croppedOne of the most important things I’ve learned as I’ve been working through the Agile transformation at IDT is that not everything is going to go as smoothly as I would have liked it to.  I have to remember that I’m introducing (sometimes very significant) changes to how people do their job, and it’s not unreasonable for people to have some resistance to that.

Forcing change on people or saying, “you will do this simply because I say so” is not a winning strategy.  I remember days I would head home feeling defeated and beat down.  It’s important not to give up.  Keep as positive an outlook as you can, and plan your strategy for the next discussion.  Don’t keep repeating the same tired arguments over and over.  If they didn’t convince someone before, that person is not likely to suddenly change his or her mind about it.  Try to understand where people are coming from and what their concerns are.  Find ways to address their concerns.  If you can’t, it might not be a bad idea to question your approach.  Above all, challenge issues and not people.

In future posts, I’ll cover some ways to help overcome objections to agile and dispel some pernicious agile myths.

Most importantly, keep a positive attitude and don’t give up!

Creative Commons Regal Tang” by Kevin Chan is licensed under CC BY 2.0 / Cropped from original

Eastern Iowa Agile presentation – Selling Agile to Executives

On Thursday, March 26th, I gave a presentation about selling agile to your organization at the Eastern Iowa Agile meetup.

I’m not a big fan of presentations that just get read to the audience, so some of my slides could you some additional narrative.  I’ll follow this up with some additional posts to do just that.

If you’re interested in the presentation deck, feel free to grab it here.