I’m a Sideways Agilist

I’ve posted about why I need to encourage agile practices outside my department.

Fiddler Crab by denn

If Scrum is isolated within one team, its very success can be used to counter further adoption. “Agile works for you but what we do is different. You do X we do Y.”

This resistance is a direct result of what Andy Hargreaves calls balkanization — groups insulated from each other, with hard boundaries, loyalties and a political complexion.

Creating a culture where groups work together to improve the organization is core to lean and agile. So the best ways to counter balkanization are the very principles under challenge.

I’m tackling this top-down by lobbying senior executives to bring in an agile/lean coach, bottom-up by removing impediments for my team, and, perhaps most significantly, sideways by initiating a Scrum in another department.

I have tentative approval from another department’s senior managers. Now, I have to meet with line managers and identify a backlog of work. Then solicit volunteers for a team.

I’ve taken Ken Schwaber‘s words to heart and asked them to Scrum their hardest challenge or the work they think least suited to agile.

So many things can go wrong. Of course, nothing that isn’t already going wrong. That’s the point.

Scrum will highlight those problems and make solving them obvious and necessary if no easier.

More to come…

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About Ken Judy

I am an executive manager, software developer, father and husband trying to do more good than harm. I am an agile practitioner. I say this fully aware I say nothing. Sold as a tool to solve problems, agile is more a set of principles that encourage us to confront problems. Broad adoption of the jargon has not resulted in wide embrace of these principles. I strive to create material and human good by respecting co-workers, telling truth to employers, improving my skills, and caring for the people affected by the software I help build.