Updated: Dec 29, 2020
Many companies have implemented Scrum. Scrum has become the industry standard for software development. However, many companies are still struggling to reap the benefits of Agile. They cannot be really agile. What's the matter?
Agile and Scrum are often compared. By implementing Scrum, you should be able to complete twice as much work in half the time. This can lead to faster innovation and the ability to quickly respond to market changes. These capabilities are flexible and mobile. For the management team, this is a dream thing.
Management designated a Scrum pilot project. The newly formed Scrum team started with enthusiasm and went all out. Unfortunately, the expectations they carried were too high, they could not meet, and the result was often worse than before! The pilot project failed, and Agile was criticized. What is not known is that by implementing Scrum, you will not naturally become agile.
Scrum is not equal to Agile
It is not enough to implement Scrum in the software development department, it is not enough to achieve true Agility. Many companies ignore the necessary changes in corporate culture, management style, processes, and project execution methods.
Scrum is a process, and Agile is a concept.
Management stifles innovation
Changing a company's culture starts with changing the way management operates. Top-down, command-and-control management often accompanies Scrum. When something fails, management demands an explanation and finds the corresponding responsible person. Changing the corporate culture of a company starts with changing the management and operation methods. Top-down, command-and-control management often accompanies Scrum. When something fails, the management asks for an explanation and finds the corresponding responsible person. Thus, by implementing many formal checkpoints, the process was designed to avoid making mistakes again. Before you are allowed to do a thing, you must submit detailed documents and ask the relevant department to stamp them for approval. Because employees are not encouraged to cross these boundaries, innovation and agility are also stifled.
Projects above Scrum
With the old corporate culture, plan-driven project management is also retained. The project will only be approved when the management is convinced that they will make money. Delivery on time within the cost budget and the established range is still their expectation. In a Scrum organization, this will cause the project manager to have to negotiate with the Product Owner and the Scrum Master. The scope is often defined as the desired deliverable, rather than achieving a business goal. The product owner’s authority to decide how to achieve a business goal is very limited. When deadlines are no longer feasible (for example, with new insights), the pressure will ensue. In order to meet the deadline, the team was required to work overtime throughout the night and could not rest on weekends, which eventually caused quality problems.
Compared to the previous situation, mixing the waterfall model with Scrum is more inefficient and useless.
Only by getting rid of old habits and old working methods can Agility be achieved!
What is an agile corporate culture? It is based on trust. The management believes that as long as the right people work together, there is no need to worry about finding the best solution. People are given trust and freedom to explore ideas and solutions without having to ask permission in advance. Even if it fails, it doesn't matter. Making mistakes and learning from them are encouraged because innovation can only be achieved with the preparation of trial and failure.
In order to achieve Agility, decision-making power and responsibility should be delegated to the lowest possible level in an organization, that is, to the Scrum team. If people are allowed to do what they think is in the best interests of the company, they will have a sense of ownership. Management simply explains the strategic priorities and (measurable) business objectives to control the big picture. The Scrum team is trusted, and they can figure out how to achieve these goals.
Managers become service-oriented leaders, and they only lend a hand when the team cannot solve the problem on their own.
The transition to Agile is often a big change, and there are many things that need to be changed.
Rules and policies
Agile: Because of the high level of trust in people, rules and policies are unnecessary and the number is very limited. Only in key business areas (such as security and compliance) will some rules be established. Most of Airbnb's policies are based on "intuitive judgment" whether there is a risk.
Tradition: There are many rules and policies. Whenever you want to make some changes, you must first obtain the consent of a centralized authority (like architecture and security). Even minor repairs must be approved before construction can begin.
Note: Airbnb is the abbreviation of AirBed and Breakfast ("Air-b-n-b"), which means air accommodation. This is a service-oriented website that connects tourists and homeowners with vacant rentals and can provide users with various accommodation information. In June 2015, after Airbnb completed $1.5 billion in financing, the company's valuation reached $25.5 billion.
Agile: "Managers encourage cooperation to solve problems, rather than directly pointing out solutions. Managers help solve obstacles that the team cannot solve on their own."-This is Spotify's Agile manifesto on service-oriented leadership.
Tradition: The manager dictates the solution and tells everyone what to do. When encountering a problem, people often do not try to solve it by themselves, but report the problem to the management level by level.
Note: Spotify is one of the world's largest genuine streaming music service platforms. It was officially launched in Stockholm, Sweden in October 2008. As of January 2015, Spotify has more than 60 million users, of which 15 million are paying users. Spotify once published a document explaining how it did it: while rapidly achieving scale, it also allows the company to remain Agile to the outside world.
Agile: In a multi-skilled team, roles are mixed. For example, Spotify does not hire full-time testers, but they do have some engineers to teach other teams how to obtain and measure product quality. Testing has become a capability, not a role. This is a change from Quality Assurance to Quality Assistance.
Tradition: The personnel department has set up fixed roles, and defined job requirements and career development paths for each role. If you are a tester, architect, or system administrator, you will always do the work that matches your role.
Agile: Decisions are often made based on data. Everything is measured by data, and by experimenting with different practices, the best solution is obvious.
Tradition: Decisions are often made based on the opinions of managers. At Google, they advocate staying away from dangerous Hi.P.P.O(short for Highest Paid Person Opinions, that is, the opinion of the person with the highest salary).
Agile: Only when the predetermined business goals are met, the work is considered complete. At Google, they call it "post-launch iteration". Deliver your products to customers as soon as possible. They collect feedback, measure results, and iterate quickly to make the best product. Try to avoid big projects with deadlines!
Tradition: Product development is done by executing large projects with fixed deadlines and scope. How the work is carried out is usually pre-defined, but after the project starts, the business goals will be forgotten and even impossible to measure. When the first version of the product was officially released, the project team was dissolved.