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How do you convince an organization to use Scrum or another agile practice and really adopt it?
I asked this question to three Project Managers experienced with agile practices and traditional approaches.
Jesse Fewell, JesseFewell.com
“PMI CEO Greg Balestrero has been talking a lot lately about moving the Project Management field away from performance-to-plan and toward value-delivery. Often the key barriers are stereotypes about Agile (“renegades who do what they want”) and Lean (“doing the same amount of work with fewer resources”).
In the end, every organization wants to “deliver value early and deliver value often”, and that is what Agile is all about. As a result, you find many organizations quickly sign on to experiment with Agile.
The difficulty comes when Agile starts to create transparency and accountability. Most organizations are not used to that, and will go through many “growing pains” that will either slow down or completely stop an Agile adoption effort. For example, the modern Project Manager is called upon to fill many roles at once, which masks a lot of confused responsibilities in the organization.
When the Project Manager starts pushing more decisions onto the sponsor, and more accountability onto the project team, things can get awkward and frustrating. But you have to go through that discomfort in order to grow. “No pain, no gain”.
Convincing organizations to “Go Agile” is not so hard. The greatest difficulty is convincing organizations to “stay Agile.”
Craig Brown, BetterProjects.net
“Project managers can’t convince an organization or senior management to adopt Scrum.
The owners of the project have to want to change. Project managers can simply provide Scrum as an option. Someone needs to have an urgent and important problem that they both see intellectually and feel emotionally.
IT managers and project managers are much more likely to feel the pain and seek help via agile methods than operations project managers or non-IT executives. The IT folk are at the end of the delivery chain and so when things go wrong at any stage of a project it is usually discovered at the IT delivery end.
If you are dealing with IT manager only, you’ll find kindred spirits who want to throw off the shackles of dysfunctional process.
If on the other hand you are dealing with people who don’t usually work on projects, or people who only deal with the front end of projects (initiation, requirement specification, and maybe design) then you’ll have a harder time convincing them of the need for change. They aren’t feeling the pain.
You’d think senior execs would want a change, but their business isn’t IT and they have process experts and auditors who are used to working a particular way. Convincing them to change is possible, but you have to be the right person with the right levels of trust and so on.”
Bob Tarne, Zen-Pm.blogspot.com
“I think each organization is different and therefore there could be different reasons for why organizations should adopt Scrum/agile. In the situations I’ve been in the biggest benefit for adopting agile is to increase the speed of delivery. I’ve worked with organizations that get to caught up in analysis/design.
They try to get answers that aren’t available yet and build the system around that, finding that they need to go back and make changes, which slows things down. Since change is inevitable, you need to spend less time trying to lock down the design up front and build your process to quickly identify and accept the changes.”
Image by Army.mil.