Five Reasons Your Agile Practices Fail to Deliver Results

Let's call a spade a spade. We can call many processes "agile," and teams can claim that they are practicing scrum. Still, there are sizable steps going from following basic agile ceremonies to agile methodologies or cultures.

StarCIO Agile Planning and Agile Delivery

Specifically, teams are not agile if all they are doing is

  • Conducting daily standups
  • Utilizing a Kanban board
  • Using an agile tool to open and manage tickets
  • Creating skill or platform-specific teams
  • Telling leaders that they are not waterfall

Obviously, some of these are agile methodology aspects, but you don't bake a cake by only creaming the sugar. Agile teams need to get the basic ingredients right and use them correctly for agile practices to deliver on their promises.

Driving Delivery Results Requires Agile Principles 

Here are a couple of reasons why agile teams don't get past the basic ingredients

  1. No team is leading the agile transformation - Process change and improvements don't happen on its own, nor should it be led by one all-agile-knowing czar. A best practice is to designate a small team to help define agile principles and where agile teams should adopt standards.
  2. A lack of accountability around delivery - Agile's delivery should be measured, and process improvement tied to where teams need help. When teams aren't measuring successful releases, sprints, and stories, where is the incentive to improve agile methodologies? There isn't, and teams just go along following methodologies handed down to them.
  3. Failed attempts instrumenting prescriptive agile practices - Larger organizations that elect to scale agile face many hurdles, and the primary one is that instrumenting overly prescriptive agile methodologies are hard to adopt. When teams get frustrated, or leaders run out of runway to instrument change, agile organizations are left with a hodgepodge of agile practices used differently by each team. 
  4. Lack of role definition - Ask ten people in the organization on the roles of product owners, scrum masters, technical leads, and who has what agile responsibilities, and you're likely to get five or more different answers. 
  5. Agile planning is ill-defined - Most agile practices, including prioritization, standups, reviews, and retrospective, all focus on agile team delivery. When teams don't have agile planning practices defined, then backlogs are sparse, and just-in-time planning is the norm.  

So this leads to five principles I help agile organizations define:

As always, I am here for your questions. If you don't know where to start, continue, or grow with how low-code can drive digital transformation, please reach out to me!

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About Isaac Sacolick

Isaac Sacolick is President of StarCIO, a technology leadership company that guides organizations on building digital transformation core competencies. He is the author of Digital Trailblazer and the Amazon bestseller Driving Digital and speaks about agile planning, devops, data science, product management, and other digital transformation best practices. Sacolick is a recognized top social CIO, a digital transformation influencer, and has over 900 articles published at InfoWorld,, his blog Social, Agile, and Transformation, and other sites. You can find him sharing new insights @NYIke on Twitter, his Driving Digital Standup YouTube channel, or during the Coffee with Digital Trailblazers.