Hackernoon logoStop doing Agile under perfusion! by@jplambert

Stop doing Agile under perfusion!

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Jean-Pierre Lambert Hacker Noon profile picture

Jean-Pierre Lambert

Agile Test Evangelist, Test Facilitator, Scrum Master, Gray Hunter

… And stop behaving like heroes!

Cet article est également disponible en français.

This week I had the pleasure to talk with exciting people… who happen to be in tough situations.

I’d like to share some parts of our discussions. I think they sum up pretty well where they’re in now. This can actually be read as a follow-up to my previous post about those companies implementing Agile in such a wrong way that they are actually giving the worst possible picture of Agile, ever.

Does it sound familiar to you? 😇

Some compelling quotes summing up the situation

If you behave like their mom and you’re always cleaning up after them, then why would they stop being dirty?

Please note that sometimes, a mom scolds her children. When necessary, it can go as far as punishment!

Frankly, if that’s the PO’s job to check manually that there is no regression, then why the developers would care automating tests?

I tend to think that things are going much better when the person feeling pain and the person in capacity to bring solutions to the pain are the same person.

OK, so you told the stakeholders that User Stories must be ready before you can start working on them, yet you start working on them anyway. From their point of view, they are totally right to keep working the same way.

Just put your feet in their shoes. If nothing stops you from working the same way, then why would you stop and work differently?

You work like crazy to successfully ship the product in spite of the vast amount of debt. So in the end, what’s wrong? In any case it’s not the debt since you manage to deliver anyway.

Sure thing: why care as long as there is no impact on business?

Some time ago, these people were not called developers but software engineers. An engineer follows a code of ethics. He won’t allow to build a bridge that might collapse. Are you behaving as engineers or as code monkeys?

… The answer is rarely “as engineers.”

What’s the common thread?

It’s that everybody behaves as heroes of course!

Each time, people are showing an incredible amount of goodwill, in truth too much goodwill: people want too much to do the right thing. It all ends up with broken rules and processes…

A first good reason to break the rules: to be the one saving the day

We all have a natural tendency: we want to save people, things, projects! We like to pose ourselves as heroes. And then the rules suffer…

You’ve just been assigned an urgent task! It’s undoubtedly critical to the business! Why following processes? Go for it and save the company!

Another good reason to break the rules: the fear of having nothing to do

Most people — at least in our western culture — simply cannot conceive the perspective of having nothing to do at work.

That’s the classic “maximize production capacity” thinking which is so ingrained into our minds. We forget that what’s must be maximized is actually produced value… Which is not a direct result of the amount of work.

Why such a focus on rules? Are you obsessing over it, Jean-Pierre?

Well, maybe a little 😝

Knowing how to say “no”

Jokes aside, knowing how to say “no” is an essential skill in our industry.

We already explained at Agile en Seine how it was an essential skill of the Product Owner.

Sandro Mancuso in his book about Software Craftsmanship explains how it is also an essential skill of good developers.

As for the Scrum Master, it’s easily one of his main duties when aboard a not-yet-seasoned team.

Why are we defining processes?

These rules are there for good reasons. And these rules have been formalized so that it’s effortless to decline breaking these rules.

Process is a tool that makes it easier to say “no.”

Don’t feel bad for hiding behind processes: that’s exactly why they have been created in the first place.

You’re the only one responsible to live by them… It’s as if it was hurting to abide by the rules. 😨

OK, what do I do now?

Well… Learn to say “no” and follow your processes.

And if that’s not an option, maybe because it became systemic and that you cannot do anything about it, that it’s not in your hands anymore — the remedy is quite simple:

Just quit. Go away.

What do you owe to this company anyway?

What’s the point to stay here, to try to make this junk Agile work? The patient is brain-dead. Switch off the life support.

You’ll find a better job somewhere else.

But it’s the same thing everywhere, anyway, right?

I’ve been also asked whether companies or teams actually practicing Agile do exist. Isn’t it only some kind of mirage, some fantasy?

Yes Agile companies and teams do exist! Don’t waste your time in a company lying to oneself.

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Thank you so much!

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