In order to have an overall understanding of scrum framework, it takes only a couple of hours of reading of scrum guide. As per the founders of scrum, it is a framework which is easy to understand but difficult to implement. The reason being, it is a value based system than a rules driven system. Several discussions are going on in the social media about ‘what is agile?’. I like those self introspection by agilists , because all of us can easily and conveniently forget the fact that agility is based on continuous improvement and it can happen only in an environment based on;
- Commitment (to the work)
- Focus (Focused work)
- Openness (Work environment where people can share their views without fear)
- Respect (Self respect and mutual respect)
- Courage (Courage and confidence for decision making)
Many sponsors of agile initiatives do not focus on these aspects, or by the time they realize that these are important, their organization would have already developed a culture of it’s own with it’s roots on command and control systems, because they hired people with those backgrounds. In such environments, the idea of self organizing teams take a beating. Unfortunately, it is very difficult to re-engineer culture, once it is set.
As an entrepreneur, if you really want to develop a culture conducive for agile and self organizing teams;
- Start early, when the organization is still small.
- Define your value system (what type of a work environment you want to create)
- Recruit the right people who can align with the value system.
- Allow the processes to evolve based on the team retrospectives
- Do not stick to any one agile framework. Scrum can be a good starting point, then start looking at all other frameworks for good practices.
- Implement a reward and recognition system which support the value system
Things to avoid
- Do not recruit managers/leads who do not have conviction on agile. Many large organizations push their managers to agile certifications just to boast about the number of certified agile masters they have. Certifications does not mean that they are good in agile. Certified scrum masters with conviction on scrum is a very rare breed. If you spot one, recruit, else wait.
- Avoid recruiting managers who are not willing to unlearn and learn.
- Avoid recruiting testers with lot of experience in independent manual testing teams. Start looking for testers who are good at test automation and good functional knowledge (learn-ability)
- Do not have the wrong notion that excellence is linked to experience. Many highly experienced people can become a liability in the agile world.
- Agile will not solve any of your problems just by implementing a agile framework. Agile will start exposing the weak areas where you need improvement, and these inputs can be easily mistaken as problems of agile when they are actually the problems of the organization/team. Agile will expose the problem areas very fast and it is up to you to address them. That means you get more time to recover and improve. That is the real benefit.
How many of you can really appreciate the airline staff, when the flight is delayed?. Once I reached the airport, they said my flight is delayed by four hours. I got annoyed first. Then I checked the reason. They said the break system have an issue. Immediately I appreciated them for detecting it before take off. A failure detected early. As a sponsor of agile initiative, if you have that kind of a mindset, please embrace it. You must be willing to celebrate a failed early sprint and throw a party for the team for their honesty. When you go to the gym, what you get first is body pain. If continue it despite the initial pains, then you develop muscles, and you can lift more. That is a good investment.