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Agile for the non-Agile

There is a lot of material around to help teams become Agile. It mostly focuses on developers, scrum masters and product owners. In the real world, these teams might become quite Agile, but they are likely to be embedded in an organisation which is not, in itself, Agile. Project Managers, Forward Planners, Business Owners and others who are currently working in non-Agile ways all need to adapt if the organisation is going to get the most out of Agile. Sadly, there is not enough support for these groups.

In particular (and in line with Agile practice) we need to help people understand what Agile really is and how people "outside" the team can work effectively with the team. The best way to do this is to be empirically based and share knowledge and practice based on the reality of how things work well in organisations. Choosing an Agile methodology or framework without understanding Agile properly will not be effective. It gives the impression of Agile without the advantages.

And if you want to criticise Agile, it is better to do it from an understanding of what it really is - rather than the common practice of people criticising what they think it is.

This section contains short articles covering many of the issues I have discovered whilst working as a coach in large organisations. I envisage two ways of using them:

  1. For the non-Agile: Have a look at the articles and see if they help you get a better idea of how to work well and get the best from Agile teams
  2. For Agile teams: You are probably quite aware of the issues that you have interacting with the larger organisation. It may be useful to point other people to these articles or even specific sections within them. You can also use them as a basis for explaining to other people about particular issues which concern them

Please note that this material is all copyright of Learning Technology Services Ltd. Feel free to link to it and point people to it, but do not reproduce the content in any form without explicit permission. (See copyright and contact details at bottom of page for how to request permission).

Agile for the non-Agile - articles

These are the short articles and the key points they make.

Everything you always wanted to know about Agile but were afraid to ask
  1. Introduction
  2. What is an Agile team?
  3. Organising work
  4. Interacting with the team

Start with this article. It gives a very short summary of Agile from the perspective of someone who has to work with an Agile team but does not necessarily fully understand agile or how to work with it. The article covers many of the most common questions that everyone seems to ask

Common mis-conceptions about Agile

A key aspect of Agile is that it is based on constantly reviewing what we do and how we do it to make it more effective for the teams and organisation in which we find ourselves. Criticism is always welcome - but it must be constructive criticism, based upon understanding, empirical evidence and a shared desire for improvement. Unfortunately, many people outside an Agile team often criticise based upon what they think Agile is, rather than what it actually is. There are a small number of common mis-conceptions about the whole approach. This article is intended to address those things so that you can focus on the issues that really affect Agile in your organisation rather than challenging things that are not real issues

Whatever happened to...
  1. Issues for traditional approaches
  2. Agile is Empirical
  3. Agile approaches to waterfall issues
  4. Agile approaches to Project Management issues

One of the most common areas of confusion is what has happened to things like requirements, specification, design and testing when we move Agile. All these things are still there, but are done in ways which are more flexible, effective and honest. It is important to understand that these issues are still being dealt with, and that things like planning and reporting are actually much better with Agile (once you get it right) than ever before

Software ain't what it used to be
  1. What is a piece of software?
  2. What does that mean for Project Management?
  3. How does that relate to Agile?

What we mean by 'software' has changed hugely, even in the last 20 years. The changes since 'waterfall' approaches were developed are almost unbelievable. Agile is partly a response to these changes, so it is very helpful to have an overview of what is different. It also makes it easier to see where developers are coming from and communicate more effectively with them

From Old roles to new
  1. What are roles in Agile?
    • Product Owner
    • Scrum Master
    • Everyone else
    • Visitors
  2. What changes?
    • Project Managers
    • Business Analysts
    • Business Owner
    • Subject Matter Experts
    • Developers
    • Testers/QA
    • Stake-holders

Because Agile is a different way of thinking about software development, it requires people both within and outside an Agile team to review the way they work. Roles, communication channels and the remit of people all change as Agile is adopted and develops. This article summarises how the 'conventional' roles change and how they relate to new Agile roles

Hopefully, these are enough to get you started and resolve many questions you have about Agile. Other sections of the site go into more detail about most of these things, but you may not need that level of detail. If you have concerns or questions that are not covered here, feel free to ask us.