Agile Purgatory

please waitpur·ga·to·ry   noun \ˈpər-gə-ˌtȯr-ē\ – a place or state of temporary suffering or misery

 – Merriam Webster Dictionary

If you have been involved with any of the agile frameworks, methodologies, process, or the like for a significant amount of time, I am certain that you have passed into, though or may even be currently living in Agile Purgatory.  If you currently exist in this temporal state, I say FEAR NOT.  I would wager that most of us will go through this middle-state more than once in our agile life on this earth.  There is light at the end of the tunnel, you just need to step out of the way before the train is upon you.

How do you do this?  To answer this question, let’s look at a few (not all) of the reasons a team may be scheduled for a stop at Agile Purgatory on their way to Development Nirvana:

  1. A change in team dynamics – Your team may have been cruising along when your company or possibly a team member on their own accord is removed from the team and or replaced by a new team member (PO included).
  2. A change in team product – Your team has become very efficient with the current product which is now very mature and is subsequently moved offshore for continued support while your team is given a new product and Product Owner to start development from scratch.
  3. A change in management / ownership / philosophy at the top – Your development group has been moved as part of an organizational restructure to a new group unfamiliar with your development practices and style.
  4. A change in team operating practices – Your team has become so successful at what they do that some members decide that some of the processes you currently employ are no longer needed.

These changes are business realities (regardless of whether they should or should not be) at some point in most organizations, and you can clearly see how each change could adversely affect team dynamic, performance, and stress the environment in which the team operates.

Another cliché holds the solution to getting out of the way of the train, getting “back to basics”.  The application of this concept is slightly different in each of our examples, but getting back to a common center will be the quickest way out of Agile Purgatory.

The key to getting out as quickly as possible and on to or back to Development Nirvana is recognizing the challenges, highlighting them, and being very open and proactive about addressing them as your top priority.  To use another analogy; there is no hope in winning a single auto race until your car’s engine is out of the repair shop, so why even enter into a race until you have your car in racing condition?  I’ll cover each of these in future independent blogs…

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