This thing called…

Imagine that you work at a average company. The software that you produce is average, not better, not worse. As are your developers. One day your boss  comes in and tells you he found Jabberwocky. According to your boss Jabberwocky is amazing. You will send people to train Jabberwocky. You will hire consultants specialized in Jabberwocky to guide you in how to use it. For Jabberwocky to be successful you need to reorganize your company. It will take time and cost a lot of money. Then your boss tells you that if you are lucky, you will be one of the 20% companies that are successful by using Jabberwocky.

If it was your company, would you try to implement Jabberwocky? Wouldn’t it be insane to even try to do it? What if it was called Scrum and they people that sold it to your boss didn’t tell him that only 20% are successful using it?

I read a lot about agile a long time ago but when I saw the way it was
marketed and pushed out onto organizations I felt that it was done in the wrong way. Recently I stumbled on a forum thread where a developer criticized scrum. As always, he was jumped on by scrum shamans beating him with sticks telling him he is doing it wrong. What caught my eye was a reply by Jeff Sutherland. Part of his post was…

“Recently I was in Silicon Valley and found that 80% of the thousands of teams I met with did not have working software at the end of a sprint so there is clearly an enormous mess out there. 80% of teams are not Agile as they don’t meet the second value of the Agile Manifesto. They don’t have a shippable product increment at the end of a sprint so they are not doing Scrum either.”

So 80% of thousands of teams are doing it wrong? If 80% of the companies that try to follow a methodology fails, is that where your company should spend its money to make improvements? I have actually heard someone say that 90% fails doing scrum and that because of that we need to be better at scrum.

By now I guess that you think I am anti agile. I’m not. I just believe that many companies get sold on an idea without understanding what it takes to be successful implementing it. If they fail, it is the companies ability to do Jabberwocky that is the problem. But why do they fail implementing it? In many cases it is not the understanding of Jabberwocky that is the problem. In many cases the company culture and the mindset of the developers are bigger issues than anything else.

In my opinion, the success of any project depends on the skills and mentality of the  management and the developers. With the right people involved, you could actually do something called Jabberwocky and still succeed. I will try include practices I find important to succeed in future posts.