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Don't Let Fake Agile Get You!

When a team talks more about ‘we’ rather than ‘I’ then that shift has started to take place

Agile is one of the leading industry topics today – but Agile is more than just a collection of practices. It is truly a mindset shift and a collaborative, empowered way of working. Many organizations pick up a few agile methods or may try a few practices out, but often that just sets up what we call ‘fake agile’ – or agile in name only. To fully realize the benefits of agile within your organization you must be aware of ‘fake agile’ and not let yourself fall into the trap!

Fake Teams

  • If people are only talking to their team at a planning session or at a demo – it’s not an agile team.

Simply collecting people and putting them to work together does not build a team. Teams require work and dynamic building so that they become an effective, high-performing group. A strong agile organization will focus on collaborative efforts, and everyone will work together to develop value. There is NOT an attitude of ‘that’s not my job’, but an attitude of ‘what do we need to do to deliver this value’. When a team talks more about ‘we’ rather than ‘I’ then that shift has started to take place to go to a team rather than a collection of individual workers. When a team is given the autonomy and environment to make their own decisions about their work and how best to deliver value - rather than checking off a list of requirements written by someone else - then they can really perform as a high performing organization.

Fake Process

  • If you are only doing daily stand-ups and then going back to your desks, then it’s not an agile process

  • If you are doing retrospectives that keep having the same issues raised but no one acts, then it’s not an agile process.

Real agile processes build a focus on customer value into the heart of the work the team is doing. It’s not about going through the motions to check boxes on some agile checklist, but about building collaboration, improving the process by which work flows, creating more valuable products, and growing as individuals and teams. And agile is not just about scrum, or doing a daily stand-up, or putting user stories into a tool – it is about how a team and an organization can adapt quickly to changing forces and delivery high value to customers in a sustainable way.

Fake Progress

  • If a product does not have working code on production or at the very least a production like environment, then it’s not real progress

  • If it’s not delivering value, then it’s not progress

Often organizations will start doing work in two week increments and start using some agile lifecycle tool to hold their user stories, but on deeper inspection they are not actually delivering anything at the end of the two weeks or if they are, it’s a demo done from someone’s local environment that breaks the next time someone touches it. This is not true progress since it’s not a useable working solution fit for the end user. Additionally, direct interactions or feedback opportunities with users is critical to an agile organization. If a team is delivering products and never getting feedback from end users, then it’s not truly an agile process as they will not have the learning loops needed to improve both their value delivery and their process.

Avoid Fake Agile with a Strong Partner

It can be easy for an organization in transition to fall into ‘agile in name only’ or ‘fake agile’ habits, which is why it’s important to have a partner who can help shape your transformation roadmap and coach the organization through the change. Genesis Consulting has helped hundreds of organizations improve their agility through our training, coaching, value stream mapping, business agility assessment, delivery framework, and transformation support. Contact us today to help your organization avoid the ‘fake agile’ trap!

- Beth Hatter

Director of Agile Training


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