The turkey at Thanksgiving dinner

By now you have undoubtedly heard of the whole Agile trend or working in Scrum teams. In my opinion a lot of companies try to evolve into a company with an Agile mindset, an Agile way of working, and most of them, in the Netherlands at least, choose to implement Agile by working in scrum teams.

The thing I find interesting is that a lot of the time the start of this transformation, or evolution if you will, comes from the management of these organizations. Somewhere in an ivory tower, where the management resides, the decision is made to “work Agile”. You and I both know that in a lot of cases, management has no idea what this is, means or implies.

Simple example: a study from the HR department of a successful web shop based company in the Netherlands showed that anywhere between 20 and 30% of the “workers” are unsuitable for working in an Agile environment. Thus they will not develop, let alone adapt to, the Agile mindset. Is management prepared to lay-off that amount of people, and far more important, is the company ready for such a shake-up?

The contradiction is beautiful in a way. Most management is top-down saying “We must do Agile, we are going to work in scrum teams tomorrow”. While scrum (among other Agile methods) tells us that, sometimes, up to 3 or 4 management layers are no longer required when truly adapting to this way of working, or living even. Project managers, (some) test managers , team managers, deployment coordinators, release coordinators, department managers……the list goes on…..are all redundant and thus waste.

Of course, ignorance is bliss, until the hammer drops. ‘Wait a minute, does scrum mean I am going to lose my job? My well-earned, respected management job’.
At this time management begins to frustrate  the transformation, sabotage the evolution if you like. If they succeed in doing so, Agile (or scrum for that matter) will fail and they will point and say: ‘see, I told you so’ or since they are management, they will say: ‘I informed you thusly’.

So at the tipping point of knowing what Agile is and understanding Scrum (knowledge the management should have had in the first place, at least on a basic level) they become the turkey giving advice about what to eat on Thanksgiving……guess what that’s NOT going to be.

Bon appetite!

Hans Lantink is a senior test consultant working at Sogeti in the Netherlands. 

This blog was first published on SogetiLabs