The concept of dedicated to one task at a time is not supported. They won’t change. Because the CEO manages with fear! Our egos are bigger and more than the company goals. My leadership team no longer believes in it. My manager has to assign work to the team. Lack of courage. Business model won’t support it.Too many silos. Of me.

I found all of the above statements on a wall at Agile 2013 (and many more). Those who wrote were asked to finish the statement “Agile will fail at my organization because …” There were only about 70 respondents in all, which is hardly a representation of the 1700 participants at the conference. However, all of the statements said a lot to me. I don’t need to wonder what it takes to feel like this. I’ve been there and really understand what it can feel like.

In a past life I went into an organization as an employee (we’ll leave names out of things). They were a typical in-house IT shop living and dying by the waterfall. It didn’t take me long to see the weaknesses and issues of how work was being approached. What’s more it didn’t take long to uncover how people felt: It’s the way we’ve always done it. We suck and that’s OK because people don’t expect more. We even had one director who managed by fear (he actually would bang his fist on the table). I heard lots of excuses why the poor results existed. Despite this I strongly believed we couldn’t keep doing things the same way.

I’ve written about being unhappy with what’s happening at work. I believe you have to either accept it, change something, or leave. The purpose of this post isn’t to write about each of those things as I’ve already done that. (If you haven’t read my post you can find it here: So you’re unhappy with something at work. What are you doing about it?)

As good corporate citizens you have responsibilities. I believe your responsibility is to first look after your career (no one else will!). Your second responsibility is to help continually improve how your organization does work. So what are you doing to help change things? For many it would be very difficult to shift the organization towards fully using an agile methodology such as Scrum or XP. That doesn’t mean you should give up and go back to doing what you always have. You should be looking for practices, behaviours and principles you can bring into your way of working.

I’ve applied agile & lean to the waterfall and had good results (some challenges as well). In my next post later this week I will provide some examples of where I’ve improved the outcomes of waterfall by applying Agile and Lean practices. Despite all the bashing, jokes, etc the reality is waterfall works. It’s not as efficient or effective as an Agile or Lean methodology … but it does work. So if you’re in one of these places where moving away from waterfall isn’t going to happen any time soon … what are you doing to improve where you’re standing?

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