Why Agile Teams Fail

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Why Agile Teams Fail

People interact and drive the day to day strategy, operations and tactic which provide the life line for every institution. Nonetheless, people especially regular employees are not accorded the respect, nor given proper treatment in most environments they work.

Now, people are found at all levels of an organization and play different roles with varying responsibilities that either places them as leaders or as followers. Apparently not all leaders are leaders, however the reality remains, most organizations fail at Agility adoption because of leadership ideologies. Here are some reasons why agile teams may fail;

1. Wrong people in the right position.
2. Entrenchment factor.
3. Understanding of concept.
4. Politics of Things (POT)
5. Ecosystem readiness.

Below is an explanation of each.

1. Wrong people in the right place: Organizations make the mistake of creating the right positions but place the wrong people to drive the objectives of such position. Sometimes the POT mind set and the whole idea of perceived competence tend to erode the placement of right people in the right place within organizations. Organizational misalignment are typically caused by people not understanding the vision and how it syncs with their roles. The issue with the wrong people in right place is;

  1. No knowledge of employee skill set; Lots of managers or middle management have no understanding of what training their direct reports have, looking to have and how it can be leveraged.
  2. Single point of failure; Creative leaders or managers re-create knowledge and diversify source. Having a single go to person with a lot of knowledge and no evident sharing knowledge transfer mechanism creates potential process stalling or delayed access to project requirements.
  3. Ability to listen; though simple but very hard to do. Most leaders listen but do not hear. The ability of listening and hearing someone must be inclusive of taking innovative opinions and implementing them.
  4. Authority drunkenness; not something people will worry about too much since the leader or manager has the authority to give directions. But the truth remains. Leaders who worry about controlling others often end up with health issue most of the time. Wrong people in the right place always worry about the authority of the position versus its output requirement.

2. Entrenchment Factor: The idea of if it works don’t fix it continuously truncates basic adoption of Agile best practices by most teams. Below are some of the reasons why entrenchment factor fails agile teams;

  1. Out dated knowledge: Entrenchment encourages people to remain in a purse in so far as acquiring new skill or knowledge. Usually there is no visible challenge on the job that creates a need for an individual to think more creatively.
  2. Culture positioning: Entrenchment factor walls off ideas and creates a myopic view of problem context as well as late adoption of standard practices. As a result, innovative cultures and ideas is conditioned and boxed into a corner making creativity almost invisible.

3. Understanding the concept: A lot of teams do agile as against be agile. The idea of agility is focused around mind set, pro-activity, creativity and above all collaboration. Agile is not Scrum and neither is scrum agile. Scrum which is the most practiced flavor of agile application is often understood as the centre piece of agile thinking but that is far from true. Better put, agile is the practice and principle around aligning people, culture and process to deliver value to the end client while scrum is the model of applying agile thinking. Incrementally developing a solution and having ceremonies like daily standard up doesn’t make teams agile. This misunderstanding of the agile concept greatly limits teams and results in eventually failure of the team.

4. POT (Politics of things): The POT factor continues to plague organizations and decision maker’s alike.in many ways. First, human beings are political animals guided by the idea of interest, perceived shaped by perception and grounded in rational or irrational actions or responses. Decision makers often are clouded in bias when decisions are made around appointments or specific assignments. Bias is real and brings out the worst in human beings even when it’s at the cost of the organization. Certain individuals viewing others as intellectually inferior and never allow their views to come to light. And even when such ideas are allowed they are treated like not so smart but applaud when presented in a different way by the so-called innovative minds. The POT effect continues to slow down adoption of agile as well as innovation in and around any organization. You will be amazed how deeply rooted the POT effect is in most organization.

5. Ecosystem Readiness: A lot of leaders and organizations want to introduce agile but do not have the infrastructure to support the practice. The agile approach or mind set is a known disruptor of the existing. In most cases it changes the entire mind set and approach and requires a receptive ecosystem that is ready, they are;

• Adopt a mind-set
• Adapt to a mind-set.
• Accept a mind-set.

In summary, agile teams fail because of people and the decisions they make. Deciding to be agile is always a clear difference from deciding to do agile.