Agile is not always the answer

Post by 
Harry Vazanias
Published 
August 30, 2018
"I love Agile"

Agile is great. It’s dynamic, focuses on value, empowers the workforce. Hurrah – up with the Agile manifesto!

"I also hate Agile"

I hate Agile for a number of reasons, but probably the biggest right now is how it has become the lazy answer to business needs. We need to become Agile. We need to adopt Agile. We need to think Agile. Agile should be our default answer. No, no, no.

"Agile is a great framework and idea"

Scrum and other Agile methodologies can be highly effective approaches for delivering and embedding changes, particularly IT changes.

"However, Agile is not the only and complete answer"

Too many organisations are jumping into Agile without first clarifying what question they are even needing to answer.

A few years ago I got into a heated argument with another management consultant over the use of Agile. He was arguing that all IT teams should be Agile product teams, constantly working to develop IT solutions under their remit. I disagreed strongly. “If it makes sense, absolutely,” I argued,“but some IT systems and environments may not be suitable. There will be various cases where it just doesn’t make commercial sense or justify the level of effort”.

We never agreed. He’s now a senior figure in the DevOps community which is perhaps not a surprise. The idea that the Agile way of working is the defacto answer before you’ve asked the question is the problem. He was trying to apply Agile to everything because it was such an effective model, but he wasn’t asking about what was needed or desired.

If a company wants to be more ‘digital’, then it first needs to understand what it means by this and what it really wants to achieve. Define that first, then with an open mind look at the how. Agile may not be the best or only answer. A news organisation I helped a few years back decided to implement IT changes through rolling 8 week mini projects. This was highly effective, allowed them to easily commission work to different suppliers and to deliver changes quickly. They had product owners and daily stand ups, but didn’t do Agile. They borrowed Agile ceremonies and even roles from the likes of Scrum, but equally took much of their delivery approach from frameworks such as Prince 2. This was highly effective and they are one of the most digital organisations I know. They have agility.

"So that’s why I hate Agile but, as I said at the start, I also love Agile"

It is great for a number of reasons, but blindly loving something without seeing its faults is a mistake. It means you might apply Agile when it’s not right for you, and that can be far more dangerous than not doing Agile at all.

Join Our
Newsletter

We never share your info. View our privacy policy
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Join Our Amazing
Community
THere's More

Post You mIght Also Like

All Posts
Strategy & Transformation
Oct
15
//
2021

People are at the heart of any transformation

When organisations are considering an Op Model change, the people the change will affect need to be front and centre of all thinking related to the change. It is far too common for ‘the people’ to be considered too far along in the process, or not really considered at all. This leads to Op Models that fail because they are incompatible with the people required to actually make them work. So, how can we avoid this to happen?
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
Jan
7
//
2021

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion - The 7 Step Approach

I don’t think anyone could have predicted the year we have had and I think most people will agree it has been pretty rubbish. The best thing to have come out of 2020 came from an absolute tragedy. The murder of George Floyd prompted emotion, demonstrations and conversations across the world. In turn it has made companies wake up and realise that we have to do better in aiming for better ethnic diversity in the workplace.
Strategy & Transformation
Oct
14
//
2020

Real Legal Tech (Part One)

To say this year has been interesting is an understatement, but even prior to the pandemic, questions were being asked by senior partners, general councils, COOs and lawyers in general. ‘Why do we spend so much on new IT systems, tools and applications, yet the benefits are so minimal?’
Strategy & Transformation
Jun
22
//
2020

Culture trumps strategy every time

Digital Transformation is all the rage these days – as businesses try and deliver customer centric value to the market quicker than their competitors. However, it is often done without consideration for the cultural impact of these changes to your business. 
Strategy & Transformation
Jun
17
//
2020

Integrate LPM in Law Firms

Integrate Legal Project Management (LPM) in Law Firms