Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Agile - Are you falling into empty ritual syndrome?

My first blog entry of 2012. Received inspiration to write this blog from the PMI Region 5 Leaderhsip Conference.

Daily Stand-up Meetings

“Sprint” sessions

Task Boards

If you work for an organization or department that believes Agile is all about daily standup meetings, having sticky notes all over the board when gathering data, or doing development in sprints, then you are not alone my friend. How do we convince our senior leadership that Agile is a mind-set not just a latest trend in software development? How do we start living by Agile principles rather than performing two to three rituals? In my experience, the main reasons we fall into empty ritual syndrome are the following:

Lack of training on Agile
How many of us have gone to a PMI event and have tried techniques presented by the speaker? Many of us fall into traps where we listen to great lectures and try other’s best practices without putting the brain power of understanding the fundamentals. We are so anxious to try a technique; we fail to understand the true purpose.

Many of us enjoy certain aspects of Agile like daily stand-ups because they make us feel that we are doing something “agile”. Some are pretenders and perform these rituals to please senior management. Agile Manifesto, , contains four core values that is key to embrace for every agile practitioner
• Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
• Working software over comprehensive documentation
• Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
• Responding to change over following a plan

If you follow a few of the core values, then you fall into a trap of doing some of the rituals and will not get the benefit of following agile.

Implementing Rituals that are not “empty”
I’m very new to Agile and ways that I’ve tried to learn the methodology is go to PMI events related to Agile. I’m also attending free webinars at to understand the philosophy behind Agile. I love trying new ideas and implementing new strategies at the work place. Before implementing a “ritual”, I’m asking myself – What is the purpose and how will my organization benefit from the ritual?