How leaders can mess with Agile

How leaders can mess with Agile

The Agile methodology has gained significant traction 🔥 in the world of software development and project management for its ability to foster collaboration, adaptability, and customer-centricity. However, like any approach, its success hinges on proper implementation and support from all levels of an organization. While Agile encourages a bottom-up, self-organizing structure, the role of leadership remains crucial in providing the right environment for Agile practices to flourish.

Ironically, it's possible for leaders to inadvertently hinder the Agile process, stalling its potential benefits and causing frustration among teams. In this exploration, we'll shed light on how well-intentioned leaders might unknowingly disrupt the Agile methodology. By recognizing these pitfalls, organizations can foster a more effective Agile implementation and navigate the delicate balance between leadership guidance and team autonomy.

Companies collapse or see great setbacks by implementing agile incorrectly.

I have seen people say, "Take a sprint and complete the project", That guy is being kind of "Judge, jury, and executioner" for the team 😀.

Hi, my name is Ganesh, and I am here to talk about how leaders should not see agile.

If your company is planning to move away from the waterfall kind of framework and adopt the SCRUM Framework/Agile Philosophies, please be cautious there are a lot of pitfalls.

Below are some pitfalls I was talking about:

  1. Buy tools and Hire SCRUM talent, in a month or so we will be agile

  2. Let's not touch the org structure

  3. I don't need to change

  4. My client/stakeholders don't need to know

  5. Agile is going to save me money

Let me explain how these ideas are going to fail you.

Buy tools and Hire SCRUM talent - Let's be Agile

This thinking is not correct, SCRUM is not some tool or training. SCRUM is a practice; it is a cult. Tools and training are essential but that's not all, Agile change is a continuous process to change the mindset of associates, workflows, delivery model, and technology stacks so it's a reinvention but again all this can happen over a course in agile, that's what agile is one goal at a time.

Let's not touch the org structure

Agile works best in a flat-structured organization. This means few or no levels of middle management between staff and customers/stakeholders. This increases the responsibility of a scrum team and improves coordination and communication. So, the re-alignment of the organization is important.

I don't need to change

Your expectations are the organization's goals which means you are the first person to start thinking the agile way. The promises or agreements to the clients or stakeholders should come from teams working on the project. So, you will become responsible for the teams and teams will become responsible for delivery.

My client/stakeholders don't need to know

No, they should know, that Agile changes the delivery model from all at once to one thing at a time, this means everybody's expectations should be aligned to the agile delivery model.

Agile is going to save me money

No, Agile is a value-focused framework, financial benefit will be a by-product of the value-focused delivery. The product or customer is the center of the agile journey, the customer or products might demand a lot of changes to the scope or estimates. So, if your focus is not product or customer, you better stay away from agile.


The change from waterfall to agile should start with the leadership team. Leaders should think agile. Some of the crucial factors to consider:

  1. Tolerate Failures, Do Not Tolerate Delivery Without Value: Agile methodologies encourage experimentation and innovation. It's important to understand that failures are a natural part of the process if they lead to learning and improvement. However, the goal is to deliver value to the customer. Failing fast and learning from mistakes is valuable, but consistently delivering features or products that don't add value to the end-users should not be tolerated.

  2. Make It Work, Then Make It Better: This principle emphasizes the importance of delivering a functional product or feature before investing too much time in optimizing or refining it. The initial version should meet the basic requirements and demonstrate its viability. After that, improvements can be made based on feedback and changing requirements, ensuring that effort is focused on elements that truly matter.

  3. Granular Goals Over Larger Goals: Breaking down project goals or tasks into smaller, manageable pieces helps in several ways. It improves visibility into the progress being made, allows for faster course correction if needed, and facilitates continuous integration and testing. It also enhances collaboration among team members as they can work on smaller, more specific tasks that are easier to understand and manage.

  4. Focused Groups Over Larger Groups: Agile practices often involve forming small, cross-functional teams. These teams are usually self-organizing and can work more cohesively, as they possess the necessary skills to complete a feature from start to finish. This minimizes dependencies and communication overhead between teams, leading to faster development cycles and improved quality.

  5. Keep Asking the Focus Questions: The "focus questions" refer to inquiries like "Why are we doing this?", "Who is the end-user?", and "What value does this bring?". Continuously asking these questions ensures that the team remains aligned with the project's purpose and the needs of the customers. This practice helps avoid scope creep and ensures that resources are being utilized efficiently.

  6. Test, Test, Test, and Test: Testing is a crucial part of the agile development process. It's not limited to just the end of a development cycle; testing should occur continuously throughout the entire process. Automated testing is often used to catch regressions and ensure that new code changes don't break existing functionality. Regular testing helps identify issues early, leading to faster resolutions and more reliable software.

Incorporating these agile best practices into your development process can enhance your team's efficiency, collaboration, and the overall quality of the products you deliver. Remember that the agile approach is adaptable, so feel free to tailor these practices to fit your team's specific needs and project requirements.