Top 3 Reasons you are DOING agile but not BEING Agile

being Agile

Many organizations like to say that they have made the transition from traditional project delivery to adopting an Agile framework.  While an organization may have dropped the methods they previously used they are not necessarily being Agile. In my experience, there are 3 reasons why organizations tend to fail at being Agile.

  1. You misunderstood that Agile is a culture shift for the company, not an IT way to get work done
  2. There is no Product Owner if using SCRUM, or the one designated doesn’t understand the role, or you designated role to the wrong person
  3. Misunderstanding the Scrum Master Role if using SCRUM

Reason #1

Yes, Agile started in the software development community, but, only having 1 department that is “Agile” does not achieve the goal of being Agile. Collaboration with others is key, but if the rest of the organization won’t collaborate on an ongoing continuous if not daily basis, then you will not reach the state of being Agile.  You will get the same results you got before you declared the IT department was now going to be doing Agile.

Reason #2

Lack of a product owner if using SCRUM.  Product Owner is the person who has the vision and understands how your product is used by customers.  It is not an IT role in the traditional sense.  If implementing agile using Scrum framework, this role must work closely with the dev team and all the stakeholders to ensure the right things are being worked on, and that at the end of the sprint, you have a potentially shippable product. If this is missing, the dev team will work on what it wants to work on, and potentially shippable product may never happen until it’s scheduled for release several sprints away. In other words, you didn’t get incremental value quickly, you got what you wanted potentially at a way later date, missing out on incremental value.

Reason #3

The Scrum Master role is about coaching and removing impediments from the team, so they can continue to deliver the sprint goal.  You can view this role as a manager, a project manager even, but the Scrum Master is not meant to be gathering requirements, updating documentation, taking notes, etc.  The scrum master is there to ensure collaboration happens, that there is someone to go to if a person has already tried to remedy a situation themselves, to help the organization understand Agile and the SCRUM Framework.  They are there to facilitate discussions, to help get to decisions and understandings between the dev team, product owner, and rest of organization.  This position is strictly neutral to everything and everyone.

Are you ‘doing’ Agile or ‘being’ Agile?

Being agile is more than just the roles and ceremonies that make up the framework your using. It truly is about people, collaboration, and commitment. The roles and ceremonies are meant to foster agile, not act as a screen to hide behind and still not change the way the organization does business.  Do you have someone fostering this change in your organization?  Is your Scrum Master neutral?  Bringing in a consultant for this type of role helps to ensure neutrality, gain a clear understanding of the Scrum framework, and moves your organization thru the change process.

Want to learn more about ensuring that your organization is ‘Being’ Agile? Reach out me at to continue the conversation.