Stefan Wolpers

Professional Scrum Trainer (PST) with

📺 Agile Failure Patterns 2.0

TL;DR: Agile Failure Patterns 2.0 (Webinar Replay)

The fourth Hands-on Agile webinar addressed 12 reasons why ‘agile’ is not the quick fix for dysfunctional organizations — from the ‘what is in for me’ syndrome to outdated technology stacks tp the lack of a failure culture.

Agile Failure Patterns 2.0 (Webinar Replay)

Webinar Agile Failure Patterns 2.0: The Episodes

  • The first episode covers the lack of a vision. (Why is the organization pursuing to become agile? The organization is not transparent about vision and strategy hence the teams are hindered to become self-organizing. Or let us put it in a different way, Alice-in-Wonderland style: “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.”)
  • The second episode covers the question whether ‘agile’ is a fad or trend. (The middle management as well as team members do not embrace an agile mindset or abandon it quietly, believing it is a management fad that will go away sooner or later.)
  • The third episode covers projects, budgets, and stage-gates. (My budget, my feature: The organization tries to become agile without switching from a project-based to a product-based development approach. The process continues to be ruled by (annual) budgets, and risk-mitigation by committee is still the norm.)
  • The fourth episode covers the lack of a failure culture. (Teams, therefore, do not move out of their comfort zones but instead play safe. Perhaps, replace “culture of failure” with “culture of learning to get back up again after falling” is a better match.)
  • The fifth episode covers the efficiency and utilization focus. (The management still believes in its traditional role: telling people what to do, how to do things, and making sure everyone is busy at all times. Therefore, engineers are considered to be too valuable to waste their time with user interview.)
  • The sixth episode covers the convoy of silos, resulting in the organization moving at the speed of the slowest to change silo. (The organization is not optimized for a rapid build-test-learn culture, and thus departments are moving at different speed levels. The resulting friction caused is likely to equalize previous Agile gains.)
  • The seventh episode covers the ‘what is in for me’ syndrome. (Not everyone embraces ‘agile’ enthusiastically — particularly not those who will lose opportunities when self-organization becomes the norm, and the pursuit of personal agendas turns into a distant memory from the past.)
  • The eighth episode covers prevailing Taylorism and the resulting micromanagement. (A perceived loss of control at the management level leads to micro-management. Or the organization is practicing ‘agile light:’ The management abandons self-organization the moment a critical problem appears and forms ‘task forces’ instead.)
  • The ninth episode covers misaligned incentives. (The incentives of teams on the one side and stakeholders or individual team members on the other side are contradicting each other — which can easily result in a moral hazard. For example, the sales department tries to save the quarterly bonus by ‘requiring’ new features they hope will bring new revenue or sells non-existing products.)
  • The tenth episode covers outdated technology stacks. (Engineering teams are not free to choose “their” tech stack but have to work with what other people provide to them. Being forced to work with inferior technology significantly reduces the teams’ willingness to accept accountability for their work.)
  • The eleventh episode covers team building issues. (For example, moving people among teams upon short notice. Or teams are not adequately staffed, for example, scrum master positions are not filled, and product owners have to serve two roles at the same time. Or teams are too small and hence not cross-functional. Or not involving teams in the recruiting process.)
  • The twelveth episode covers inadequate facilities. (A team is not co-located, not working in the same room, but scattered across different floors, or worse, various locations. The work environment is lacking spots for formal and — more important — informal communication: cafeterias, tea kitchens, sofas, etc. Or it requires whiteboards.)

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Webinar #4: Agile Failure Patterns 2.0 was first published on

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