The Road Not Taken

Mountain Path Ript - Photo by Kathie Horejsi

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 on one of our larger projects and 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.

Mountain Path Ript - Photo by Kathie Horejsi

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.

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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.

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  1. Pingback: I’m a Sideways Agilist | Ken H. Judy

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