What is Agile?

That’s not Agile! So what? A common phrase we hear at our coaching clients or in Agile and Scrum training classes is “But that’s not Agile!”  As Agile and Scrum coaches our answer is “So what?”  Angela Johnson, Certified Scrum Trainer shares perspectives on the defenses and disconnects that this phrase causes. What is Agile?

When the phrase “that’s not Agile” is used as people are trying to work together in a new and different way than they have traditionally worked, the walls go up.  Many are immediately defensive and respond with things like “what does that even mean?”

As a neutral coach who has intervened in these conversations, I ask people to take a step back.  I then start with this:  “When you say ‘that’s not Agile’ do you really mean that the organization has asked you to try working in an Agile way but continues to behave in ways that contradict this?”  The answer is almost always a resounding “yes!”

Rather than scare people with the “A-word” or raise defenses with new vocabulary terms, we have to remember individuals and interactions and just talk to each other.

This conversation usually leads us straight to why.  Why do you want to adopt Agile or Scrum?  What does your organization hope to gain out of working in this different way?

Many do not even realize that they are reverting back to their old ways of working but using new vocabulary. For those who have crossed the chasm and have fully embraced this new way of working, it can be very frustrating when the very organization that asked them to do this responds with working the same old way they always have worked.

This is why the role of the ScrumMaster is so very important in any Scrum adoption.  They are the “personal trainer” who is there neutrally facilitating these tough conversations and reminding us of the real goals that the organization has set.  If the organization has chosen Agile or Scrum as a means to achieve those goals, it is the Scrum Master who gets everyone back on track when that muscle memory kicks in dragging us back to our comfort zones and old ways of doing work.

Want to learn more about how a Scrum Master can help break through these walls? Click here to view our upcoming classes and register for our next CSM or CSPO course.