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How to Identify Fake Agile

Given the competition and fast pace of change in today’s environment, being agile is a critical characteristic for any business in this day and age. Indeed, many businesses have gone to great lengths in adopting agile processes to ensure they achieve a level of agility needed for them to survive and thrive.

Unfortunately, not all supposed “agile” processes are what they claim to be. And if left unchecked, it can be detrimental to an organization’s development.

So how can one identify if the enterprise is implementing fake agile? There are key telltale signs to look out for:

1. Ignorance of agile

CIOs with inadequate knowledge of agile, including its basic principles, requirements, and benefits, are almost certain to fall for fake agile. Organizations that want to be agile but are at complete odds with the agile philosophy can also fool themselves about their agile practices, despite the contrary to be fact. Thus, it is important to not only know what agile is and what it entails for the organization but also determine beforehand if becoming agile is something that aligns with its structure and future plans.

2. Losing the forest for the trees

Some organizations tend to look more into the granular details of agile such as scrum meetings which can distract from the actual content and context of agile and the results the organization needs to achieve in its agile activities. Leaders should remember that agility is not only about adhering to a methodology or implementing particular technologies but more importantly is about business goals and value realization.

3. Lack of leadership

When a team lacks a dedicated product owner and/or scrum master, it will face difficulties in implementing agile practices. This underscores the need to have dedicated team members, and that the product owner and scrum master thoroughly understand their roles. Otherwise, the product owner and scrum master must familiarize themselves through training or working side by side with the team members so they can have a better understanding of how they operate.

4. Neglecting feedback

Some organizations fail to consider the two-way communication that is needed to ensure the effectiveness of agile implementation. This is characterized by leaders ignoring feedback or other concerns raised by their stakeholders, instead focusing more on reaching business goals and objectives. The success of agile depends on the processes in place to integrate fresh feedback and deliver value, especially by listening to the concerns of internal stakeholders, providing customer feedback, and ensuring that product backlog priority is aligned with the enterprise’s strategic objectives, product roadmaps, and a well-defined portfolio.

5. Rigidity

Agility is not only about adapting quickly and effectively to the changes in the environment but also being flexible to deviate from the norms if needed to achieve the organization’s goals. Thus, strictly adhering to the established norms, even if such norms pertain to agile, at all times is actually a sign of fake agile. Proper education and training is essential not much to educate team members about the traditional processes but about how they can possess the necessary skills and attributes to be as flexible as possible as they strive to reach the optimal targets for their business.

6. All just talk

Some teams tend to be enthusiastic about their organization’s agile efforts that they focus on creating buzzwords to generate interest in these efforts rather than showcase the work itself. It is important that leaders ensure that this enthusiasm does not obscure the fundamental mission and that teams are made aware of what is important to the organization and its clients.

7. Ignoring the tech aspect

Some organizations fail to invest in the right technologies that can help them achieve agile status. As part of the greater digital transformation process, becoming agile involves making use of different tech-based languages and tools that can help simplify or accelerate processes, as well as improve the quality of their products or services for their customers and clients. Automation can also help streamline operations and delivery of their products or services.

8. Feeble commitment

Fake agile entails a weak sense of commitment usually borne by a lack of understanding, resulting in a lack of or reluctant buy-in from senior management a desire to cut corners simply to save time and money, lack of collaboration, poor customer engagement, and a focus on processes rather than outcomes. CIOs should make an effort to narrow down the root causes behind this lack of commitment and take steps to address them immediately, particularly by educating leaders and team members of the importance of accomplishing real agile.

Achieving agile status is a challenge for many organizations and it is tempting to seek shortcuts or cut corners in order to achieve at least a semblance of it. However, agile is not something that cannot be faked or done in a half-measure. It requires full commitment and performing the proper steps and processes that every organization must adhere. While the journey may be difficult, with the commitment to learn and do the right processes, achieving true agile will unlock opportunities for the organization to grow.

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