Agile can bring about profound transformations in organisations and enterprises, but is there a danger that the hype surrounding agile over-promises what it can deliver?
As an experienced business analyst, I’ve had close involvement working with agile, seeing its benefits first-hand. But I do recognise that in some situations, adopting it can be challenging.
Here, I’m going to explain why, as a mindset, agile really works, but also why some organisations find it hard to get to grips with it.
What I hope you get from this is that you don’t have to believe the hype around agile, but you should seriously consider the benefits.
What Makes Agile Successful?
Historically, agile began in the world of software development. This is where it built its reputation. But this is also probably where the hype began.
Well-known brands using agile for project development include:
In their industry, the pace of technological development is rapid and developers must adapt easily, quickly and effectively.
The agile approach enables them to work more collaboratively, gain continual feedback, and fast-track development. In such a competitive, changeable marketplace, this ability to produce results rapidly is vital.
What has now happened is that the agile mindset has expanded into other industries and sectors, as a means of delivering culture change and accelerated business development.
A major element in agile’s effectiveness is that it enables two things to happen, which might otherwise seem hard to reconcile:
- It offers a faster, more efficient route to project success, and
- It does this incrementally, repeating tasks where necessary.
As such, for some organisations or businesses, this can represent a wholesale change to how they normally work. And agile requires diligence, enabling repetition and re-examination to reaps rewards in the longer term.
The challenge, then, is in implementing the methodology. And difficulties arise more from this, than from the methodology itself.
What Can Block the Momentum of Agile?
Basically, it boils down to culture. Agile has proven itself able to transcend different types of organisation and enterprise, but there has to be a capability to adapt in the first place.
For some organisations, they are too rigid structurally to generate the necessary momentum to make agile work for them.
Here are some reasons why these types of organisation cannot adapt to agile:
- They have an unwavering belief that their market will remain stable and predictable, and therefore feel no need to make changes
- They are not set up to gain the necessary stakeholder feedback that helps drive agile development
- They cannot afford the kind of trial and error margins in the development process, that are part of the incremental approach of agile.
Can Confirmation Bias Become an Issue?
Some organisations may be wary of taking a new approach to project management, especially if this does not seem to gel with their existing culture.
If their immediate reaction to agile is sceptical, and if an already rigid culture reinforces this scepticism, then this can hamper agile working from the outset.
Confirmation bias is where someone searches out information and evidence that supports beliefs or values they already hold.
If agile appears to over-promise, they might already feel dubious about its benefits. This will make them less likely to feel open to the changes it can bring.
Openness is the Key to Change
To deliver on its promises and fulfil expectations, you have to apply the agile mindset correctly and thoroughly.
The methodology will only work if the recipients are receptive to it.
To want real change, you must be open to the idea of change in the first place, and all that can imply.
There are dos and don’ts when it comes to implementing agile, which I’ll cover in a later blog.
But this precondition of openness is essential. If you’re open to change, then agile can make change a reality.
For more details about applying the agile mindset to your business, please contact me