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The agility misconception – Part 2

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Gabri Herrmann wrote in the last entry here in the blog about misunderstandings regarding “agility”. While reading it I had to smile a lot, because I recognized many of the topics from my consulting everyday life.

In the companies where I am currently working in the field of team and organizational development, I come across further misunderstandings, which lead to the fact that “agility” has now become a dirty word in some companies. Many employees:inside are frustrated and have “no more desire” for “this next sow that is driven through the village”.

Here my top 4 misunderstandings, in addition to the 4 from Gabri:

#5 – “Agile means: Let’s do something quickly”

Some colleagues hear the word “agile” and understand “fast”. Projects are initiated and pursued without right or comprehensive goals. New features or releases are to be introduced “just now”, without customer feedback or testing. Colleagues:inside, who then ask critical questions, are dismissed as “old school” or “un-agile”. What is obviously missing here is the necessary strategic and possibly also organizational framework that every agile team / every “agile” company needs. This costs a little bit of time, but is usually useful 😉

#6 – “We are now working to Scrum, hurray, we are agile!”

If Scrum is understood purely as a method or process, decisive aspects are missing to make things “round”. Depending on the form this is a clear strategic framework (see #5), but sometimes the old hierarchical culture, which punishes mistakes because it is not able to cheerfully fail or to see “fail fast” as an opportunity, stands in the way. Now and then a true customer orientation is missing, e.g. by conducting reviews permanently without customers. Scrum without the necessary accessories then becomes a permanent frustration.

#7 – “I can’t just let the teams do it after all…”

One of the most common problems with the introduction of agility, in my observation, is the lack of involvement or awareness of the upper management levels. The core of agility is to provide cross-functional teams with more responsibility within a defined strategy, so that they are able to make decisions quickly and confidently. For the management levels, this means letting go and letting the team “do”. Unfortunately, not all “boss:inside” are aware of this. If “empowered” teams are called back, the frustration could not be greater.

#8 – “I am the state. “

I have seen “agile” teams that mastered Scrum perfectly, were left alone by their managers, worked within a meaningful strategy and a trusting culture… and yet were not in the least agile. What was missing was the ability to change perspectives and self-reflection; thinking in “both and” and not in “either or”. What was missing was the “agile mind set”. The team members were very convinced of their own opinion and certainly did not let customers or users make them think. The project results? Let’s talk about other stuff.


And the moral of the story? Dear company developers:inside, please look closely at the system and the people and do not introduce a method or approach like a template or woodcut… People and organizations are usually unique and need their own way of change, their own interpretation of “agility” and their own goal. It is worth listening and taking a close look, in line with the agile mindset and a generally human-centered approach.


Thanks to John Cameron for sharing their work on Unsplash.

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