Essays on Leadership and Management

Agile teams vs. Agile organizations

How fast can an organization go if every single development team follows the Agile methodology? The Agile manifesto came out years back. The speed at which software gets delivered has, in fact, changed since then. We deploy more frequently. We release fixes faster. We course correct more. We fail less. I attribute this success more to the dismantling of the draconian 'Project Management' practices than to the Agile methodologies. Companies like Netflix do not practice any flavor of agile. Yet they are nimble. Their style of work and outcomes speak of agility.

Most companies with scrum teams are still not really Agile. The teams might be. The organization is not. Within the bubble of product management, development, devops and SRE, teams usually hit that rhythm. You see deploys. You see releases. Outside that bubble, there is high chance of hitting a wall. Sometimes many walls.

Higher up the leadership chain the decision making process starts to show signs of rigidity and obsession with documentation and rituals. Supporting structures - hardware/cloud, hiring people, procuring software, getting security approvals, managing data for testing. Each of these areas has the potential to bring the beautiful rhythm of agile teams to a grinding halt. Money is scrutinized by multiple eyeballs, for good reason too. The patterns behind all these workflows are anti-agile.