For a team that has followed waterfall methodologies for years, moving to agile is not easy. We walk the agile path, and meander into our waterfall comfort zones. And when realize we are down the waterfall, we find our way back to the agile path.
It’s a continuous effort, because this is not only about a process to be followed. It’s about a philosophy to be imbibed, a way of living to be adopted. And so, that won’t come without an effort. We thought about some of the areas we tend to slip in. Here are some.
Going back to full feature than focus on stories: In the agile process, we work in sprints which ensure the chosen stories are completed. This includes the development, theming and testing. As a developer I need to focus on the story and then move it for theming or testing. But it’s very easy to lose focus and go back to the old way of development, which involves building a full feature or functionality.
In effect, a developer could end up coding out the entire feature taking up much of the sprint time. This leaves the themer and tester with little time to complete their work. Not only that, instead of them having to work on one story at a time, the developer ends up giving them a fat chunk of work to process further. This has huge impact on the sprint schedule.
Agile expects us to break the job into small tasks and focus on these tasks one by one. But it’s more fun to see the full picture, instead of a little part. That’s why we slip.
Going back into individual roles: Earlier, we thought of ourselves as developers and QA people. In the agile methodology, we get the work done, the sprint completed. And that means I could be a developer today and a QA guy tomorrow. But if I have been a developer for the best part of my career so far, I do find it hard to suddenly take on the role of a QA.
But agile is not about who I am. It’s about what the team delivers. And if for some reason, any reason, the sprint is thrown out of gear, it’s my job to get in and do the best to bring it back on track. But many of us forget. We often go back to playing our individual roles, which could throw the sprint off track.
It’s a mindset challenge. It’s a shift from clinging on to descriptions we have given ourselves (or maybe others have given us).
Going back to hierarchy: In the waterfall methodology we would have team leads, project managers and other designated people to follow an hierarchical approach. We knew who to go for problems, and who would drive the ideas and processes. It was easy to just be a follower, and do what was being told. Agile is a different ideology. You might not even have a role called Project Manager. It’s about focusing on the problem at hand and getting into discussions on how best to solve it and then go about doing it. And everyone adapts to the problem at hand. It’s being able to rise to the occasion, be what the situation demands you to be.
Each person probably could end up finding the leadership qualities in him. That’s probably a scary thought for those who have been mostly following. Some adapt easily, some keep slipping back to being followers. And when one person in the team slips, it’s likely to impact the rest as well.
Is your company on the agile path as well? Do you face these issues in your team? Or something else? Drop a note here.