I began advocating agile principles at my company four years ago. Over time, my co-workers and I have grown into a Scrum/XP team. We have a track record of successful projects and a handful of supportive sponsors. Senior executives value our developers. My CTO understands the team dynamic itself is the prize asset.
Having reached a milestone onand seeing ambitious work ahead, I wanted to write about how I stood at a crossroads: contribute to the team or attempt to nurture agile values elsewhere in the organization.
It’s a pleasant, contrasting choice. But it assumes a lone agile team can thrive after becoming visible to the larger organization. There are two pressing reasons why I doubt this is true:
- An agile team attacks impediments from within or without. Either the team makes progress against these obstacles or it declines.
- Human nature abhors exceptions however exceptional. If the organization doesn’t become a little more like us, it will surely, inevitably re-make us to be more like it.
So, no crossroads. One path lies before me and it looks surprisingly familiar.
As I did four years ago, I must advocate agile from within and peer to peer. This time around, I have success at my back but face longer odds.
Scrum the project. Scrum organizational change.
I can only make progress one step at a time. I must demystify what we do by allowing more chickens into my team’s reviews. I must find and coach others predisposed to agile values. I must find at least one executive willing to scrum a thorny project with their staff. If I get the chance, I must seek out expert coaching for those above and across me in the organization.
As four years ago, success relies more on others than on myself. But I believe, as before, that not trying is worse than failing in the attempt.