Tuesday, February 15, 2011

When Agile becomes Anarchy

I have seen successful agile teams innovating on process front..and quite successfully so. While I am in favor of such evolution in Agile ecosystem, what bothers me is the resulting lack of discipline.

One of our high performing project teams has successfully implemented Kanban processes into Scrum framework, but to my surprise, in the process the team has lost focus on some key agile processes. For example, there is neither any sprint commitment (Scrum CTQ*) nor any limit on WIP items of each workflow state (Kanban CTQ*). While the team continues to measure sprint velocity, the complete lack of predictability is equally puzzling (i.e Avg Sprint velocity assumed to be 40 SP**, where as, for last number of quarters team is consistently maintaining a higher velocity). To the credit of this particular project team, it's successful in meeting sponsor expectations (The process works!?..so it seems.)

While some teams can get away with such transient process implementation (like the aforesaid team), in order to be successful over a long run, I would strongly recommend to bring in process rigor.

Agile is already lean on processes, but it requires a disciplined approach towards maximizing value from it's limited set of processes. Keeping with the ethos of 'Inspect and Adapt' if you plan to change any of the existing processes, consider this simple approach:
  • Make sure the process changes doesn't break any of the agile values or practices
  • As a project team, discuss and agree on the new set of processes to be adopted (if possible share with others as well - make it public)
  • As a team commit to the new processes with utmost discipline
Agile without discipline would result in Anarchy.
It may work for you today but you can never be sure how it turns up tomorrow.

Thoughts? Reactions?

*CTQ - Critical To Quality
**SP - Story Points

No comments: